Pesto

Serves 4

  • ½ clove garlic, chopped

  • sea salt

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 good handfuls fresh basil, leaves picked and chopped

  • 1 handful pine nuts, very lightly toasted

  • 1 good handful Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

  • extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 small squeeze lemon juice, optional

Pound the garlic with a little pinch of salt and the basil leaves in a pestle and mortar, or pulse in a food processor. Add a bit more garlic if you like, but I usually stick to ½ a clove. Add the pine nuts to the mixture and pound again. Turn out into a bowl and add half the Parmesan. Stir gently and add olive oil – you need just enough to bind the sauce and get it to an oozy consistency.



Season to taste, then add most of the remaining cheese. Pour in some more oil and taste again. Keep adding a bit more cheese or oil until you are happy with the taste and consistency. You may like to add a squeeze of lemon juice at the end to give it a little twang, but it's not essential. Try it with and without and see which you prefer.

Nutritional Information

Pesto

The Italian classic with basil, Parmesan and pine nuts

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This easy, beautiful pesto recipe is absolutely bursting with fresh herby flavour
Serves 4
05m
Super easy
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Method

When it comes to making pesto, you can invest in a good processor if you like, but you can also make it using a pestle and mortar. If you have a blunt blade from your processor then don't chuck it, but keep it specially for making pesto or marinades where you need to bruise out the flavour, instead of chopping. You may think it's nice to toast the pine nuts until they're coloured, to give them a nutty taste, but the really good pestos I've tasted in Italy just have them very lightly toasted, to give a creaminess rather than a nuttiness. Pesto is normally made with green basil, but purple basil looks good if you can get hold of some. Another way, slightly more American, uses rocket instead of basil – it's fragrant and interesting with roasted meats, but I prefer this classic pesto recipe.

Pound the garlic with a little pinch of salt and the basil leaves in a pestle and mortar, or pulse in a food processor. Add a bit more garlic if you like, but I usually stick to ½ a clove. Add the pine nuts to the mixture and pound again. Turn out into a bowl and add half the Parmesan. Stir gently and add olive oil – you need just enough to bind the sauce and get it to an oozy consistency.

Season to taste, then add most of the remaining cheese. Pour in some more oil and taste again. Keep adding a bit more cheese or oil until you are happy with the taste and consistency. You may like to add a squeeze of lemon juice at the end to give it a little twang, but it's not essential. Try it with and without and see which you prefer.

Whether it's delicious vegetarian or vegan recipes you're after, or ideas for gluten or dairy-free dishes, you'll find plenty here to inspire you. For more info on how we classify our lifestyle recipes please read our special diets fact sheet, or or for more information on how to plan your meals please see our special diets guidance.

Nutritional Information Amount per serving:

Calories

Calories are just a unit of energy. If you eat more than you use you can gain weight, or lose it if you don't eat enough. How much you need depends on your weight, gender and how active you are, but it's around 2,000 a day.

Carbs

Carbs are a great source of energy and, excluding foods such as potatoes, are made from grains - like bread, pasta and cereal. We all need carbs, but try to make them all wholegrain by sticking to brown bread, rice and pasta - they are much more nutritious.

Sugar

We all deserve a treat sometimes, but try to limit your sugar intake. Most of your sugar should come from raw fruit and milk, because they give us lots of nutrients too. Always check food labels so you know how much sugar you're eating.

Fat

We all need to eat a small amount of fat because it protects our organs and helps us grow. But we need to be careful about how much fat we eat and what kinds of fat, because in higher levels it's associated with weight gain, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Saturates

Saturated or "bad fats" are in beef, pork, chicken skin, butter, cream and cheese. Too much can be bad for our heart and cholesterol levels, but unsaturated or "good fats" in fish, nuts, avocados and some oils can help keep our hearts healthy if eaten in moderation.

Protein

Protein helps our muscles to grow and repair, as well as providing you with essential amino acids. When it comes to protein, try to eat leaner sources such as chicken and fish or non-meat sources such as eggs, dairy, beans, nuts, seeds, tofu and pulses.
  • Calories 109
    5%
  • Carbs 0.8g
    0%
  • Sugar 0.3 g 0%
  • Fat 10.0g 14%
  • Saturates 2.3g 12%
  • Protein 3.6g 8%
Of an adult's reference intake

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BUYING SUSTAINABLY SOURCED FISH

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Buying sustainably sourced fish means buying fish that has been caught without endangering the levels of fish stocks and with the protection of the environment in mind. Wild fish caught in areas where stocks are plentiful are sustainably sourced, as are farmed fish that are reared on farms proven to cause no harm to surrounding seas and shores.

When buying either wild or farmed fish, ask whether it is sustainably sourced. If you're unable to obtain this information, don't be afraid to shop elsewhere – only by shopping sustainably can we be sure that the fantastic selection of fish we enjoy today will be around for future generations.

For further information about sustainably sourced fish, please refer to the useful links below:

Marine Stewardship Council
http://www.msc.org/

Fish Online
http://www.fishonline.org

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  • ½ clove garlic, chopped

  • sea salt

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 good handfuls fresh basil, leaves picked and chopped

  • 1 handful pine nuts, very lightly toasted

  • 1 good handful Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

  • extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 small squeeze lemon juice, optional