Parsley, Anchovy and Walnut Pesto

Parsley, Anchovy and Walnut Pesto

Last night was Film Club night – we watched Frida. It’s very good – you should watch it!

Most Film Club nights end up with us nipping over to Moes (poor mans Nandos) for half a chicken and rice because we haven’t got any food left over from lunchtime.

I was better prepared this week and made this pesto which, when mixed with white beans and served on lettuce leaves, makes for a very nice snack. It probably would have gone very well with some chicken from Moes!

Pesto has undergone quite the transformation over the years. My first recollections of it were the Sacla jars which you would stir through some pasta when you were too lazy to cook anything proper. Since then everyone and his dog has been making their own jars of the stuff, including Jamie Oliver and Lloyd Grossman. I’ve always found them very vinegary or jar/tin tasting which I imagine is down to the preservatives they add.

I always understood pesto to be basil, garlic, pine nuts and parmesan blended with olive oil but it is seems that the current trend is to call any blend of herb, nut, oil and cheese a pesto. Strictly these variations aren’t pestos – but then again there’s lots of fizzy white wines passing themselves off as champagne these days!

I’ve made many different types in the last year, ones with coriander, parsley, different cheeses, different oils and a variety of nuts. This pesto from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s ‘River Cottage Light and Easy’  is another variation on a theme – but its one of the best I’ve made.

Simply blend parsley leaves, garlic, a tin of anchovies (oil as well), walnuts, some rapeseed oil and a little lemon juice to taste and you’re done.

If you have a Nutribullet you can made this in less than a minute and it will be very smooth.

I’ve copied Hugh’s serving suggestion of stirring through some white beans and laying on some lettuce leaves.

I loved this. It has a real punch to it. Many pestos are quite bland but this is far from it. The anchovy really packs in flavour. Just don’t add more salt – anchovies are salty enough as it is.

There was quite a bit left over which I imagine we will use up with some feta and salad in our tortilla wraps for lunch today.

So far I’m really enjoying this book. Simply cooking. Great taste. That’s what we all need when we have little time to spare.

Brussels Sprouts with Puy Lentils and Walnuts

Brussels with Puy Lentils and Walnuts

Freya and I were discussing our eating strategy for work yesterday. Sounds complex but it isn’t really.

When I started this blog we lived in the middle of nowhere and going out was too much effort – so we just stayed in – watched box sets – and cooked every day – which meant we had ‘lunch’ for work the next day in the form of leftovers (or something made specifically for lunch).

Since autumn last year this changed. We go out at least 4 times a week and often don’t eat at home. Tuesdays we go dancing until late – and Thursdays we have film Club at work. Consequently we had no food and ended up in the awful situation yesterday of having to go out in the freezing cold for lunch that we didn’t really want – and waiting ages for it as well. On top of that it always costs us £10 or more for the privilege and we lose an hour of our day (at least).

So last night I resolved that we would always have something for lunch by being better prepared – and this is where this dish came from – made whilst watching Broadchurch Season 2 Episode 3 last night. Broadchurch is far more ‘soap-opera-extreme’ this season – it’s very intense!

Anyway – back to the food. This dish is as easy as (and very similar to) the Broccoli and Beans that I made for dinner yesterday – and is from the same ‘River Cottage Light and Easy’ cookbook by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall.

Simply roast some brussels sprouts with a little oil and seasoning until they start to char a bit and look done. While they are cooking prepare some Puy lentils. I cheated with a ready made sachet from ‘Merchant Gourmet’ – not through laziness – more through my local Morrisons not having anything else.

Then made a dressing (again very similar to the Broccoli dish) of oil, garlic, mustard, lemon juice (no egg yolk this time) an pour it over the lentils. Finally mix the lentil mix with the brussels and stir through some chopped walnuts.

Couldn’t be easier. We ate it at room temperature (as recommended in the book) and it tastes yummy. It got a few jealous looks while we ate it at work. And a few bemused looks from those that had never seen those ingredients combined like that before.

One of the sad things about cooking late at night on a poorly lit boat is the standard of food photography. I’ll seek to improve this somehow!

Roast Tenderstem Broccoli and White Beans

Tenderstem Broccoli and White Beans

I wanted something very simple for dinner today and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s new book ‘River Cottage – Light & Easy’ had just what I needed. Most of the recipes I’ve shortlisted from this book look easy. Barely cooking at all – more throw some stuff together. Just what you want when it’s freezing cold outside and you’ve just spent an hour heating up a very cold boat!

I couldn’t get hold of Purple Sprouting Broccoli so I used tenderstem broccoli instead.

This is so easy. Just preheat an oven, roast some broccoli with a little oil and seasoning for 10 minutes, add white beans and sunflower seeds and cook for another 2 minutes.

While that’s doing make a dressing of a little garlic, cider vinegar, english mustard, oil and a little sugar. I added an egg yolk to mine – which pretty much makes a hollandaise.

Then simply serve the beans and drizzle the dressing on top.

This is pretty awesome – very tasty – and was done in less than 15 minutes. Just my sort of dinner. I think this could end up in the ‘go to’ pile.

I thought there would be enough for lunch tomorrow – but we had seconds and polished it all off!