Walnut pesto

Both of us are not keen on pesto that comes in a jar as it tends to be too oily (although both our kids love it!) and we have finally hit upon a homemade version which hopefully is worthy of getting an Italian’s seal of approval.  We didn’t have any pine nuts or grated Parmesan cheese but we think walnuts and Pecorino Romano works just as well.   The addition of walnut oil accentuates the taste of the walnuts in the pesto.  We had it for lunch today with some penne and tricolore salad.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 2 small bunches of fresh basil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Handful walnuts toasted
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp walnut oil
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

A small bowl full – 6-8 heaped tablespoons

How do I make it?

Place the basil, garlic and walnut in a mixer or pestle and mortar and blend to a coarse paste.   Add the oils, cheese and adjust the seasoning.  Use it with your favourite pasta or as a spread on some grilled ciabata.

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Roasted Romanesco Cauliflower

Have you ever gone grocery shopping and come across a vegetable for the first time and wondered how you have missed it all these years.   The Romanesco cauliflower certainly falls into this category.   The vegetable was visually striking, a vibrant light green (almost fluorescent) when we first came across it in a farmer’s market a few months ago and regretted not picking it up (we were out and about and didn’t want to carry it around).   Then again on one of our trips to TESCO this marvel of nature turned up and we bought it and cooked it in a cheesy bake.   In hindsight, we did not do this vegetable justice by masking it’s wonderful nutty flavour in a cheese sauce.  Last night we decided to make amends and scoured the web for an authentic Italian recipe using this vegetable as we figured the country where it was discovered and originates from probably treated it with more care.  Sure enough there are a few recipes using it in a risotto or pasta dish.  There were quite a few recipes which were simple and essentially called for roasting the cauliflower in the oven with the fewest of ingredients.  We’ve replaced pine nuts with walnuts and it seems to work to provide the dish with some crunch and texture and added some walnut oil to accentuate the taste of the walnuts.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 1 Romanesco cauliflower broken down into florets
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chilli flakes
  • 1 lemon – rind only
  • 1 tsp walnut oil
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

2 hearty portions

How do I make it?

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and the transfer onto an oven proof baking dish or tray.   Cook in pre-heated oven at 200 degree Centigrade for 20-30 minutes till the cauliflower begins to lightly char.   Serve hot.