Saturday 23 July 2005
If you grow your own herbs, you need to keep them trimmed so the plants don't bolt. Surplus leaves can be preserved by blending with olive oil. These herb purées can then be tossed with pasta or served with grilled meats, fish and vegetables. That's what salsa verde is - an uncooked green sauce with parsley and other herbs, oil and optional anchovies, capers and mustard. The principle is the same with pesto, but it's usually made with basil.
A couple of years ago the cookery writer Anna Del Conte brought me a jar of her rocket pesto. It's a great idea and a perfect way to use those bolting rocket leaves near the end of the season, or to preserve a bumper crop that you'd never be able to munch your way through. Anna combines the rocket with parsley, not basil, as the flavours wouldn't complement each other.
If there's no parsley to hand she also has a delicious recipe for turning rocket into a dip. Whizz together 100g rocket leaves, 2 cloves of garlic and 50g of walnuts, then mix with the same volume of ricotta. Anna recommends this with roast courgettes and aubergines.
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
50g handful of flat parsley leaves
100g handful of rocket leaves
60g lightly toasted pine nuts
200-250ml olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-11/2 tbsp grated pecorino, or Parmesan
Put all the ingredients, except the pecorino, into a liquidiser and blend to a coarse purée, stopping the machine every so often and scraping down the sides so everything is well blended. Don't add the cheese unless you're going to eat it straight away.
You can keep the pesto in airtight or Kilner-type jars in the fridge for up to six months. When you're ready to eat it, add the cheese to suit your taste.
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