Sunday, January 17, 2016

Potatoes and Deconstructed Pesto

Basil is such a great herb to have growing in the garden and fortunately I have heaps of it. At this time of year, it is challenging to maintain a vegetable garden in the hot tropics, so I think that herbs are the way to go. 

Before we went away on holiday at Christmas time, I planted a whole lot of my self harvested basil seeds and came home to a very nice crop of basil plants. Since then I have made tubs of basil pesto which are in the freezer for winter pasta making when basil doesn't grow very well, or for making muffins etc throughout the year. However, it occurred to me today, that I should be using more of the fresh stuff on a daily basis.

 I have some very nice small organic potatoes, the name of which I have forgotten, which I bought from Rusty's markets in Cairns, grown in Mareeba on the Atherton Tablelands, and which need to be used.

The following  is my version of a recipe I found in the River Cottage veg everyday cookbook, which is a great way of deconstructing all the ingredients traditionally used in basil pesto, and using fresh basil, which is perfect for summer. This marries beautifully with grilled chicken.

A dollop of homemade basil  pesto can still  be added as a garnish  if desired.

Potatoes and Deconstructed Pesto

Serves 2-3

500g small potatoes, or Sebago, Kipfler or other creamy potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves
A handful of fresh basil, shredded
1 tablespoon pine nuts (optional)
50g stoned black olives, very roughly chopped (optional)
A generous squeeze of lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper
Sea salt
Grated Parmesan
Hard goat’s cheese


Cut the potatoes into 2 or 3 pieces each. Put into a saucepan to boil. Covered with water, salted, bring potatoes to the boil and lower the heat. Simmer for about 8 minutes until tender.

Drain well and return to the hot saucepan.

Whilst the potatoes are cooking, heat the olive oil in a small pan over a low heat. Add the pine nuts for a minute to lightly brown and then add the slivered garlic and cook very gently for a couple of minutes, then  add the olives and cook gently for another minute. Don’t allow the garlic to brown and be careful that the pine nuts don't burn. Remove from the heat.(Pine nuts or olives can be omitted if necessary.)

Tip the oil, garlic, pine nuts and olives into the pan with the potatoes, add loads of shredded basil (a good bunch), plenty of slivered or finely grated Parmesan, and hard goat’s cheese. Finish off with a squeeze of lemon juice. The goat’s cheese and the Parmesan will melt slightly and ooze nicely throughout the potatoes.

Enjoy the dish, we did!

Best wishes


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