Another variation of pesto today – rocket, watercress, basil and sunflower seed.
I’ve been tidying up out in the garden today and the rocket is one of the few things doing well this year. It is hanging over the bed in profusion, and getting in the way. So I hacked off three of the thick branches, then later on carefully picked off the tender leaves, discarding any yellow or chewed ones. It came to 50g. There was the remains of a bunch of watercress in the fridge on its last legs. So I picked off all the usable leaves from that, and any of the stems that were soft and tender enough. That came to another 30g.
I still have another couple of lemons in the fridge from a value bag, so in went the zest and juice of one of those, along with 125ml of good olive oil, 50g of Parmesan, ready grated in the freezer and some black pepper. I didn’t put any dried fruit in this time at this point.
It all had a good whizz in the processor and I tasted it. Hmm, bit too acidic from the lemon, so it did need some sweetness after all. In went 50g of mixed fruit, including a little mixed peel, I’d run out of raisins. I didn’t want to use nuts, I’d used pumpkin seed last time and I didn’t fancy sesame seeds, so it was 50g of sunflower seeds this time.
Another good whizz and a tasting later and it still wasn’t quite right, it needed something. So I went to the greenhouse and snipped off 3 big sprigs of basil. The leaves weighed 10g. In they went and a long whizz later, what was it like now?
The rocket and watercress lend a distinctive peppery undertone to the basil top note. A mild sweetness from the fruit counterbalances nicely the sharp acidity of the lemon zest and juice.
The olive oil seems to emulsify with the Parmesan when it’s whizzed, so I get a lovely, smooth and thick pesto. The thickness of it makes it great for spreading on sandwiches, crostini etc and would even be fab as dip for crudités, a strong flavour mind. You may like it that way, or you could relieve the strength a bit by stirring in a little value cream cheese. Try a tiny bit at first to see what you think. This batch made a huge jam jar stuffed to the brim.
You could change all of these ingredients and get very different variations, see the Sage, Lemon & Pumpkin Seed Pesto post for lots of ideas.
If you have to buy all the ingredients…
Rocket, Watercress, Basil & Pumpkin Seed Pesto
50g rocket leaves, Asda, 70g/£1, 71p
30g watercress leaves, Asda 85g/£1, 35p
10g basil leaves, Asda 20g/60p, 30p
50g mixed fruit, Asda 84p/500g, 8p
50g sunflower seeds, 60p/100g, 30p
50g Parmesan, £2/100g, £1
125ml olive oil, &3.50/litre, 44p
Zest and juice of a medium lemon, 35p
Generous black pepper
Total cost if you buy everything – £3.53 for 405g.
MySupermarket shows Tesco selling Sacla pesto at £2.40’ish for 190g, and their own green pesto at £1.49 for 280g. So even a cheap pesto is almost twice as much, and that assumes you buy your herbs. Bargaintastic!
I would keep this in the fridge for a couple of weeks. Any longer than that and it would need to be frozen, either directly in the jar, or you could use ice cube trays. Freeze them, then pop them out and put in a bag and keep in the freezer ready for when you want a couple.