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.

Fresh Borlotti Bean Cassoulet

Image

Does anyone know where to get Fresh Borlotti Beans? I don’t so I couldn’t really make this as per the recipe. If I’m honest I only chose this recipe because I found a couple of tins of them whilst packing up our food as part of our house move and figured I could swap them out without much fuss.

This dish is also from Maria Ella’s ‘The Modern Vegetarian’ – and was pretty easy – and is really just one of those ‘throw it all in a pan’ affairs. The end result is ‘posh beans on toast’ (if you serve it with toast!).

This was nice and quick and took me less than 30 minutes to make – although the recipe suggests that the longer you leave this to infuse the more tasty it will become! We ate really late last Sunday (when I made this) so the flavours didn’t have a chance to infuse. That said the leftovers were definitely more tasty when we had them at work the following day.

To make this you simply fry celery, onion, carrot and garlic (all diced very small) into some olive oil. Once soft add bay leave, sage and oregano, the beans (I used two 400g tins), chopped fresh plum tomatoes (I had a lot of Heritage ones that were very very ripe so I favoured these) and cook.

Now ordinarily in the recipe you would add water to cover the beans and cook for 50 mins or so. But my beans were already cooked so I didn’t bother with this step. I just added enough water to keep the consistency of my beans similar to that of a tin of baked beans.

When it’s all ready you remove from the heat – add lemon zest and lemon juice and some basil and serve with some toasted bread.

As quick dishes go – this was very quick. But I did cheat. This would take far longer if you used fresh beans.

This is quite a nice go to dish if you’re short of time. And it is far better than a tin of baked beans!