This is brilliant stuff. Given that fresh basil is only available for a couple of months during the summer, parsley is an obvious year round and delicious substitute.
Rory says: "I strongly believe that most peoples experience of the classic basil pesto is an unpleasant one as basil deteriorates so quickly if not carefully handled. As a result it is generally bitter and rancid. Don’t misunderstand me, basil pesto in the correct condition is one of the great sauces and for certain dishes it is irreplaceable.
"This parsley pesto made to the classic recipe has a special flavour all of its own. It is very good in soups and broths, on bruschetta, with grilled or roast fish, poultry and meats and on pasta. It keeps well in the fridge for up to two weeks."
- 25g parsley, weighed after removing tough stalks
- 25g pine nuts
- 1 fat clove garlic, crushed to a paste
- 75-150ml extra virgin olive oil
- 40g finely grated parmesan
- pinch of Maldon sea salt
- Place the parsley, pine nuts and garlic in a food processor and pulse chop to a fine crumb.
- Add the olive oil in a stream to achieve a soft consistency.
- Fold in the grated parmesan.
- Taste and correct seasoning with the addition of a pinch of sea salt.
Spring Wild Garlic Pesto
Replace the parsley in the master recipe with wild garlic leaves. Finely chop the wild garlic before processing, as otherwise it may end up being a little stringy. Proceed as in the above recipe.
Rocket Leaf Pesto
Remove the tough stalks from the rocket leaves before weighing and continue as in the master recipe.
You can make this sauce at any time of the year if you are happy to use imported basil.
I only make it during the summer months when fresh local basil is available and then I use a pestle and mortar which imparts a particular consistency which I enjoy. However you can achieve a perfectly good result using a food processor.
Remove the tough stalks from the basil leaves before weighing and continue as in the master recipe adding the oil immediately so as to protect the torn basil leaves from the air. As basil oxidizes and becomes bitter after the leaves are chopped or broken, it is essential to get the oil in straight away and to cover the pesto with a layer of olive oil and chill it as soon as possible