Sunday, 30 November 2014

Basil Pesto with Semi Sundried Tomatoes

With the festive season upon us, Christmas drinks accompanied by fine cheeses and other accompaniments will be more popular than ever. A tasty and healthy pesto adds variety to the standard cheese platter and is so easy and economical to make, especially if you grow your own herbs.  Pesto requires a substantial amount of basil, so prevent your basil from going to seed in the heat of summer, prune it well, and use the surplus to make pesto. Or shop at  your local Farmer's Market and buy it in bunches. Leftover pesto can then be added to pasta dishes and vegetable soups, the options are endless really.

The following recipe is for a fairly standard pesto, however sometimes I love to make it more interesting by adding 1/2 cup of semi sundried tomatoes to the food processor with the basil, nuts and garlic, and by using some of the Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the tomatoes with the EVOO during the final processing.

If you make your own semi sundried tomatoes and basil pesto as I do, then with cheese, you have a wonderful selection of nibblies on hand to offer your guests.


1 1/2 cups firmly-packed basil leaves, Italian or sweet basil is fine
1/2 cup good quality pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil e.g. Maggie Beer
60g parmesan cheese, finely grated
1/2 cup semi sundried tomatoes in Extra Virgin Olive Oil (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 180⁰C. Spread the pine nuts over a baking tray. Bake in oven for 5 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove from oven and set aside for 10 minutes to cool.
  2. Place the cooled pine nuts, basil, and garlic in the bowl of the food processor and process until finely chopped. Whilst the food processor motor is running, gradually add the EVOO in a thin steady stream until well combined and oozy.
  3. Transfer the pesto to a bowl. Stir in the grated parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to your taste and stir until well combined.
Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Pesto can also be frozen in a covered plastic or glass container by topping the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil. This prevents the top layer of pesto from darkening.

  • For parsley and basil pesto, reduce basil to 1 cup and add 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley. 
  • For basil and almond pesto, replace pine nuts with toasted slivered almonds.
  • Add pesto to vegetable soup.
  • Add pesto to pasta.
Related links for additions to your cheese platter:

1. Make your own Mozzarella cheese:

1 comment:

  1. I love pesto and adding sun dried tomatoes is a great idea! :D Such a tasty way to use up basil!


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