Tag Archives: Homemade Pesto

A Couple of Summer Crostini for the Four Seasons Food Challenge!

Summer Crostini Recipes

I’m a huge fan of Crostini and Bruschetta, well anything tasty on toast to be honest. Little niblets of loveliness to gobble down between sups of vin blanc on balmy summer evenings (of which admittedly we’ve had precisely one so far this year!). And they don’t just have to be for grown ups, Jacques in particularly gets very excited about crostini, though Francesca’s a little more cautious, as ever. Whenever we have friends over I can’t resist a few toasty offerings and these are my favourite toppings of the moment.

Firstly a Wild Garlic and Cannellini Bean Crostini, a simple mix of cannellini beans, lemon zest and juice, a small bunch of wild garlic leaves and bulbs , a little green chili, olive oil and seasoning. Plus a sprinkling of parsley to finish. No cooking (bar the crostini toasts) just a simple assembly job. And it so happens to double as a deliciously morish dip, which I find requires considerable restraint to not polish off in a single session.

Secondly there’s my now-favourite topping of all time. Homemade Pesto, Lemony Griddled Courgettes and Feta Crostini. Admittedly this is a little more faffy, but so so worth the effort. And exceptionally crowd pleasing to all ages and tastes. And since all the elements (like the Cannellini Crostini) can be made in advance you don’t have to be faffing when your guests arrive.

fsf-summerI shall, of course, be entering this post to my brand new Four Seasons Food blogging Simple and in Seasonchallenge, co-hosted my myself and Anneli of Delicieux. This month Anneli’s hosting and the theme’s Summer Outdoor Nibbles and Picnics. Cooking-with-HerbsAnd as the ingredients are all in season to Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season event. And last but most certainly not least to Lavender and Lovage’s lovely Herbs on Saturday challenge.

Cannellini Beans & Wild Garlic

Wild Garlic & Cannellini Bean Crostini

Great for: Pre-dinner nibbles or appetisers, bigger kids, grown-ups, parties, starters, vegetarians, wild garlic foragers, dipping

Notes: Substitute the wild garlic for a crushed clove of cultivated garlic if you can’t forage or source

1 400g tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

zest of 1 lemon, plus a generous squeeze of juice

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 small bunch of wild garlic leaves, finely chopped or 1 clove of cultivated garlic, crushed

½ green chili, finely chopped, optional

salt and pepper

1 dessertspoon finely chopped parsley for the top

crostini toasts – see recipe here

1. Simply mix together the beans, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, garlic, chili (if using) and a generous pinch of salt and black pepper. If you’re making for little people avoid the chili (unless they like it) and salt.

2. Taste and add more lemon juice, salt or pepper to suit.

3. Serve spooned onto crostini with a little chopped parsley on top or as a dip with crudités or breadsticks.

Summer Crostini Toppings

Homemade Pesto, Lemony Griddled Courgettes and Feta Crostini:

Great for: Pre-dinner nibbles or appetisers, bigger kids (though Jacques at three adores these!), grown-ups, parties, starters, vegetarians, courgette growers, pesto fiends

Notes: This recipe makes enough for about 12 crostini, feel free to substitute the homemade pesto with shop bought, but homemade is a cinch to make and truly sublime on this recipe, particularly parsley pesto (made with any sort of nut)

Special Equipment: A griddle pan or heavy based frying pan

1 large or 2 small courgettes, washed

2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil

½ lemon, juiced

salt and pepper

12 crostini toasts – see recipe here

2 – 3 tablespoons of homemade parsley pesto, or you could make your own recipe using these mix ‘n match ideas

100g of feta cheese, crumbled

1. Slice across the courgettes into diagonal 2mm thick strips

2. Heat a griddle pan or heavy frying pan until very hot

3. Mix together the olive oil, lemon juice and a generous pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl. Set aside.

4. Fill the hot pan with a single layer of courgette slices and cook for a minute or two on each side until char-grilled. Remove the slices from the pan and place in the bowl with the oil and lemon mix.

5. Continue with more courgette slices until they’re all fully cooked and charred. Stir them all around in the bowl with the olive oil and lemon, cover and set aside to marinate until you’re ready to assemble the crostini.

6. When you’re ready for crostini assembly take each crostini and spread on a generous layer of pesto. Top with a small pile of the courgettes and finish with a crumbling of feta.

7. Serve. Eat. Divine with vin blanc.

Summer Crostini Recipes

Smoked Salmon & Red Pepper Dip

Smoked Salmon & Red Pepper Dip

A Couple of Winter Crostini: Lovely Cannellini Beans & Homemade Tapenade

A Couple of Winter Crostini: Lovely Cannellini Beans & Homemade Tapenade

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Double Rocket Pizza!

Rocket Pizza

Oh I’m so into this pizza these days, it’s a really tasty little gem and one of the finest veggie pizzas that I can recommend. And handily happens to satisfy my current lust (or obsession) for all things pesto. As regular readers will well know I’ve been on a bit of a pesto bender lately trying out many a permutation of the goodly green stuff. If you didn’t catch them there was my Pic n’ Mix Pesto and Stilton, Parsley & Walnut Pesto blog and the earlier Parsley and Almond one too.

Rocket Pesto happens to be up there with my favourites, made fairly classically with a couple of large handfuls of fresh peppery Rocket, lightly toasted Pine Kernels, Parmesan, Garlic, Olive Oil, plenty of Black Pepper and a handsome squeeze or two of Lemon Juice. Wonderful on pasta, but even more sublime smothered on a homemade pizza base then topped with fine slices of Courgette and crumbled Feta, baked and finished off with a scattering of fresh rocket and a drizzle of good olive oil. Oh joy. And just what I need to set things right at the end of yet another topsy-turvy day, of which seem to be happening way too frequently these days! But more on that in a later blog….

Rocket Pesto Recipe

You could obviously use any variation of homemade or shop bought pesto for this pizza, you don’t have to stick with the rocket. But as per all my other homemade pesto blogs, if you’ve never made your own pesto then I urge you to try. It’s ridiculously quick and easy. And you’ll never ever buy another jar again.

Presuming that Rocket is considered a herb (?) I’m most delighted to be entering my Rocket Pizza to Karen of Lavender and Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday event. And as my pizza’s a made from scratch munch to Javelin Warrrior’s Made with Love Mondays challenge.

herbsonsaturday

Made with Love MondaysDouble Rocket Pizza

Double Rocket Pizza with Courgette & Feta

Great for Pizza Nights, Girly Nights In, Bigger Kids and Grown Ups, Family Suppers, Week-end Slowies, Vegetarians, Pesto Fiends

For the Rocket Pesto (Enough for 2 pizzas or 4 servings with pasta):

80g of Rocket, washed and dried

a clove of Garlic, finely chopped

40g of Pine Kernels, lightly toasted for a few minutes in a dry frying pan

40g of Parmesan, finely grated

80ml of Olive Oil

a generous squeeze or two of Lemon Juice

Salt & Pepper

For the Pizza (Enough for 2):

One quantity of Pizza Dough, I use Jamie’s recipe

2 tablespoons of Pesto, Homemade Rocket or any other homemade or shop bought

a small Courgette, sliced across to the approx. thickness of a pound coin (or euro)

100g of Feta Cheese

Salt and Pepper

A squeeze of fresh Lemon Juice

a handful of Rocket Leaves and good quality Olive Oil to serve

Special Equipment: a pizza stone, pizza baking sheet or an ordinary baking tray/sheet

For the pesto place all the ingredients bar the salt, pepper and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse a few times. If you don’t have a processor use a deep sided bowl and a stick blender or a pestle and mortar. I prefer a fairly coarse texture so you might not want to go too crazy with the blitzing. Once you have  your desired texture, taste and season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to suit.

Pre-heat your oven to the hottest it will go and pop your pizza stone or baking tray in to warm up for a few minutes.

Roll out  the pizza dough to your desired size and thickness. I personally prefer mine very thin. Place on the hot pizza stone or baking tray.

Evenly smother over the pesto, followed by the courgette slices then crumble on the feta. Season with a little salt and plenty of black pepper plus a generous squeeze of lemon juice.

Place in your extremely hot oven and cook until crisp and golden. This could be anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes! Our woodfired bread/pizza oven usually takes less than 5 minutes and the oven at it’s hottest around 10.

When the dough’s golden and crispy on the underside and the courgettes cooked remove from the oven and scatter over another handful of rocket leaves and drizzle with a little good olive oil.

Slice. Eat. Enjoy. You could  always go Treble Rocket and serve with a Rocket & Parmesan Salad on the side.

And here’s some of my other pizza faves:

Pizza Puttanesca

Pizza Puttanesca

Roasted Wild Mushroom Pizza

Roasted Wild Mushroom Pizza

Chorizo, Potato & Rosemary Pizza

Chorizo, Potato & Rosemary Pizza


Stilton, Walnut and Parsley Pesto Spaghetti with Roasted Thyme and Garlic Mushrooms

Stilton, Walnut & Parsley PestoYou know when you make something that you become a little obsessive about? And you end up eating it several times a week, and making every possible permutation of it. Well that’s pesto for me these days. Since I blogged my Parsley and Almond Pesto recipe back at the beginning of January it’s fair to say my processor’s been turning out an inordinate amount of pesto. But my latest addiction is one made with crumbled Stilton, lightly toasted Walnuts, Walnut Oil and Parsley. Make it. Please. It’s heavenly. And particularly wonderful melted into pasta with a generous serving of roasted mushrooms on the top. It’s also fair to say I have a wee addiction to Roasted Mushrooms. After my success of the Roasted Wild Mushroom Pizza, I’ve been roasting wild and ordinary mushies and adding them to many a Pizza, Risotto, Pasta dish, Bruschetta or Omelette. Believe me once you’ve tried roasting mushrooms you’ll never go back!

Stilton, Walnut & Parsley Pesto

And it’s not just me that’s been getting excited about homemade pesto lately. My inspiration for the stilton pesto came from a blog by Marmaduke Scarlett which so happened to win January’s Herbs on Saturday challenge. Thanking you very unkindly for my new addiction! Andrea of the gorgeous Shabby Chick enlightened me to the use of both Kale or Cavelo Nero and Pumpkin Seeds in a pesto. Urvashi from the Botanical Baker uses Sunflower Seeds and Comte in her Parsley Pesto. Anneli of Delicieux offered a Walnut & Basil Pesto and served it with a fun Spaghetti Squash! And she also recommends Mache Lettuce. And very recently Under the Blue Gum Tree showcased her delightful Spinach & Walnut Pesto and 8&Ruth won February’s Herbs on Saturday with her wonderful Themes of Wild Garlic Pesto blog. Also in the same competition was a highly intriguing Seaweed Pesto
from Elizabeth’s Kitchen.

Stilton, Walnut & Parsley Pesto

If you’ve never made your own pesto then I urge you to set aside a few minutes and do so. And minutes is all it takes, really. And I wholeheartedly promise you it will be sublime. As for what to put in, then get creative and frugal!. Clear your fridge and store cupboards. So this is what you need, intending to be in no means exhaustive!:

Some sort of Nut – Walnuts, Pine kernels, Cashews, Almonds, Hazlenuts, Pecans all work marvellously. Or even a Seed – Pumpkin, Sunflower

A Hard Cheese – Parmesan, Grana Padano, Pecorino, Mature Cheddar, Mature Manchego, Comte, Stilton – anything with a strong flavour really!

Something Green & Raw – Rocket, Spinach, Watercress, Kale, Chard Leaves, Parsley, Basil, Mint, Mache/Lambs Lettuce, Wild Garlic

Garlic – Unfortunately no pesto is quite right without a little garlic!

An Oil – Olive, Sunflower, Hemp, Walnut, Rape

Salt, Pepper and possibly a little Lemon Juice

Crush all together in a Pestle & Mortar or like me take the easy option of blitzing with a stick blender or food processor. And there you have it a bowl of your very own pick and mix pesto!

And pesto isn’t just for pasta! It’s perfect smothered on a pizza base in place of a tomato sauce – I have my Rocket Pesto Pizza coming very shortly for that. It’s great on puff pastry as a tart base (A Couple of Tomato Tarts), perfect paired with salad or Goats Cheese or both in a sandwich, spread on toast or muffins with creme cheese (and avocado if you want to be really extravagant!) and glorious on a jacket potato.

As luck would have it Homemade Pesto is the theme of this month’s Pasta Please, a monthly challenge held by Jacqueline of the super veggie blog Tinned Tomatoes, and this month hosted by Jen of Blue Kitchen Bakes. So naturally I shall be entering this very pesto-ey blog! I’m also entering it to Lavender and Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday challenge, this month hosted by London Busybody.herbsonsaturday

pasta please

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Stilton, Walnut & Parsley Pesto Spaghetti topped with Roast Garlic & Thyme Mushrooms

Great for: Bigger Kids, Grown Ups, Family Dinners, Dinner Parties, Mid-Week Suppers, Vegetarians

Serves 4:

For the Mushrooms:
300g of Mushrooms, Wild Mushrooms would be amazing but Chestnuts or even ordinary Buttons will happily do
2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
4 Garlic cloves, skin removed and each clove cut into 3 chunks
a few sprigs of fresh Thyme, leaves removed
Salt and Pepper

For the Pesto:
60g of Walnuts
60g of Stilton, crumbled
40g of Parsley leaves and stalks, roughly chopped
a clove of Garlic, finely chopped
75ml of Walnut Oil or Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

For the Pasta:
400g of Spaghetti, Linguine or Tagliatelle

Pre-heat your oven to 200 c.

Tear or cut the mushrooms into bite sized pieces. I leave button sized whole and Chestnuts I half or quarter if particularly big. Place on an oven tray along with the garlic pieces and drizzle over the olive oil. Sprinkle over the thyme leaves and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Using your hands give everything a good mix ensuring the mushrooms are evenly coated.

Place the mushrooms in the oven for 20 minutes, and stir and turn about half way through.

Whilst the mushrooms are roasting cook your pasta to packet instructions and prep your pesto. Start with toasting the walnuts. Heat a frying pan on a medium heat until hot, throw in the walnuts and lightly toast for a few minutes, turning and shaking very frequently – you only want a light colouring and toasting to boost flavour and no burnt black bits.

Now place all the pesto ingredients (including the toasted walnuts) bar the seasoning in a food processor and pulse a few times. If you don’t have a processor use a deep sided bowl and a stick blender or a pestle and mortar. I prefer a fairly coarse texture so you can really taste and identify the walnuts. Once you have your desired texture, taste and season with plenty of black pepper and a little salt to suit.

Once the pasta’s cooked drain and run the pesto through it, I use a pair of tongues to do this. Place the pasta evenly on four plates or bowls and serve with a pile of the roasted mushrooms on the top. Enjoy!

You may also like:

Butternut Squash Risotto with Butternut Skin Crisps

Butternut Squash Risotto with Butternut Skin Crisps

Pumpkin Carbonara

Pumpkin Carbonara


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