There’s not better topping for pasta than fresh pesto, it’s a whole lot better than the stuff you get in jars that the Italians call ‘dead pesto’. Unfortunately, it can be a hassle to make and tends to only last for a few days in the fridge, and you hardly want to eat it for several days in a row… A great tip is to make a quantity of fresh pesto (or any intense pasta sauce) and put it into an ice cube tray. When it’s frozen, pop the cubes out and keep them in a plastic bag. When you need one, take it out of the freezer and throw it in the still warm cooked pasta. Stir round the pan a little to help it melt, and voila, fresh pesto in no time at all! The flavour is retained by freezing, and you can toss in as many portions as you require.
You can also use these as instant dressings to liven up vegetables or rice, or defrost a cube in advance to mix into oil and vinegar for a full flavoured salad dressing. Try the following combinations:
Wild Garlic Pesto – equal weights of wild garlic, basil, toasted pine nuts (in a dry pan until lightly browned), parmesan cheese (or any hard cheese), blitz together with olive oil until the mixture is a smooth paste.
Basil Pesto – as above, but use double the quantity of basil to everything else and add 2 cloves of garlic.
Chilli & Rosemary Pesto – not sure we can still call this pesto, but anyhow… 2-3 dried guindilla chillies (rehydrated in hot water), olive oil, white wine vinegar, 2 garlic cloves and a few sprigs of rosemary (see the picture above).
Salsa Verde – parsley, garlic, anchovies, capers, white wine vinegar, olive oil. Go nuts, mostly parsley, equal quantities of the rest.
Tapenade – similar to above, lots of olives, anchovies, capers, lemon juice, olive oil and a clove of garlic if you fancy it.