Serves 4 with pasta
The pesto revolution arrived in my world (or more accurately Math’s world) in the early 1990s when we were both at university. When I visited him in his scabby house, he used to cook it for me with mushrooms. It was either that or the other pasta dish he invented – fusilli and frozen sweet-corn, the wonder of this dish being the way the kernels would hide in the twists of fusilli. Obviously there would be a mound of cheddar on top to serve as the protein.
Homemade pesto is fresher and less tacky than the stuff sold in jars. Not just good for pasta, but a teaspoon of pesto served on a bowl of minestrone or on top of some barbequed field mushrooms adds flavour. When I make it I omit the salt and pepper until serving, so our two toddlers can enjoy it as well.
75g pine nuts
25g fresh basil, finely chopped (a mezzaluna is perfect for this job)
6 tbs olive oil
Salt and black pepper
75g pecorino or parmesan, grated
1 garlic clove, skinned
Juice of a ½ lemon
Dry-fry the pine nuts and garlic in a frying pan over a medium heat. Shake the pan every minute or two, it is far too easy to burn the nuts. Once the pine nuts start to brown, remove them and the garlic from the heat. Crush the pine nuts, the garlic and a pinch of salt in a pestle and mortar. Add the basil, the lemon juice and cheese, season and mix well. Taste and cover with oil. You can keep it in an airtight jar for a week.
Add to just cooked hot pasta, stir well and serve straightaway, even eat it cold as a salad.