Great Ocean Food: Perfect pesto

April 1, 2021 BY

I was looking at an article I wrote about Easter a few years ago. Our world has been turned upside down in a few short months.

I am happy to observe that many aspects of life continue unchanged. It remains the most beautiful time in our region. The weather is mild and there is still much activity and excitement around the Great Ocean Road. I know a few locals complain of the increased traffic, both cars and human, but there is a sense of family, relaxation and making the most of our wonderful beaches and environment. I delight in observing people enjoying themselves.

As many will, our family is planning a gathering for Easter Sunday. We will have lunch together and the order of the day will be that many hands make light work.

My task is a potato dish, slow cooked lamb and pesto. I will particularly enjoy making a huge batch of pesto with fresh basil from our garden and the remainder of our garlic harvested last year.

Others will contribute oysters, tomato and onion pie, a cauliflower salad and cakes made by the youngest of our clan. It is wonderful to see the interest in baking from several of the younger members of the family; they are incredibly talented.

No doubt there will be much discussion of children, grandchildren, houses, politics and football.

Hopefully, a few of us will make the Easter Sunday pilgrimage to the MCG to witness the mighty Cats take on Hawthorn. Sadly, this ritual is somewhat altered than in previous years. It must be said, however, at least the game will proceed with a substantial crowd, unlike last year.

One major event we will all miss greatly is the surfing at Bells Beach. I find it hard to believe that Bells will not be contested. It does not seem right and I for one am devastated that the oldest (and best) surfing competition on the world will not be on our doorstep. It is the first time since I was born (1961) that the event will not be held at Bells Beach. Like many hypocrisies during this period of COVID, it is almost too unbearable to contemplate.

I suppose the positives are more opportunity for a surf and less crowds. Despite what some would have you believe, COVID will not affect the weather, the waves or the glorious sunshine forecast for the next 10 days.

So, I hope you enjoy the company of others, good food and wine and everything this season has to offer. And may the Easter Bunny find all of you.

Following is my tried and tested pesto recipe from Antonio Carluccio.

Pesto

INGREDIENTS
2 fistfuls fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove
25g pine nuts
About 125ml olive oil
4 tbsp freshly grated pecorino
piccante cheese
4 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
Salt to taste

METHOD
The simplest way to make this sauce is to put all the ingredients in an electric food processor and blend very briefly until you have a rough textured sauce. You can also pound the ingredients in a pestle and mortar. The latter will have a completely different look and texture to the former, and I don’t mind the extra work. Alternatively, you can chop everything very finely with a sharp knife.
Chop the basil leaves roughly and slice the garlic. In your pestle, grind the garlic to a paste, then add the basil leaves and pound until they begin to break up. Add the pine nuts and, as you pound them, they will begin to amalgamate with the basil. At this point, slowly start to dribble olive oil, enough to obtain a semi liquid sauce.
When the sauce has become liquid enough, add the cheeses, stir in well and season lightly with salt. The amount of salt depends on the type of pecorino used. Some can be very salty.

 

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