Today I want to share my favourite pesto recipe. This is the dish that fed me through my second pregnancy. Well this pesto Pasta and cheese and ham sandwiches with the crust cut off!
Stew doesn't understand the weirdness of pregnancy cravings. He always says things like "you love that it was a bit odd, but I am sure you could have eaten the crusts" I really couldn't!!!! They tasted so dry that I thought my mouth was full of sawdust. I used to make two rounds of sandwiches the night before and I would eat them before recess!!! (In case you are wondering I was a teacher back then!) And for lunch I would have a tupperware of pasta pesto ready to heat up in the microwave. That and excessive amounts of satsumas completed my pregnancy diet!
Well, that wasn't my exclusive diet, but certainly my working week diet! I still love both foods and happily cut the crusts off our sandwiches! Back when I was pregnant and had a daily supply of crusts I used to throw most of them in the garden for the birds, but now I stash them in the freezer for breadcrumbs or my garlic and parmesan crisp sticks.
This pesto is a little different to traditional pesto as it contains roasted garlic instead of the usual raw garlic; I just couldn't face the raw garlic taste whilst I was pregnant. It also contains spinach, which secretly adds so much to the pesto. It enhances the wonderful green colour, it adds an additional earthy depth and it increases the nutritional content. You can't truly identify the spinach, it just adds a little something but without taking away from the wonderful basil. If you don't have fresh spinach then you can make the pesto without it and then add some frozen spinach when you cook the pasta.
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Roasted Garlic Pesto with a Secret Ingredient
- 1 bulb of garlic
- 50 g parmesan cheese
- 35 g pine nuts
- Large bunch fresh basil leaves
- handful baby spinach leaves (see notes)
- 125 ml extra virgin olive oil
- Pre-heat oven to 200ºC/180ºC Fan forced/Gas mark 6
- Cut the top off the garlic bulb so that the garlic is exposed but each clove is still connected to the root.
- Peel the very dry out layers of paper off the bulb of garlic.
- Cut a large square of aluminium foil and place the garlic on it.
- Gather up the sides and scrunch at the top.
- Place the garlic bulb into a large muffin tin and roast for 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
- Place the parmesan into a food processor and whizz until well chopped. (If your food processor isn't very powerful you might want to grate the cheese by hand)
- Add the pine nuts to the cheese and whizz again.
- Squeeze the garlic out of the skins and add to the processor, pulse until you have something that resembles something between breadcrumbs and wet sand.
- Push in the fresh basil leaves, spinach then pour over the olive oil.
- Whizz the mixture until you have a thick fragrant paste.
- Taste and add salt as required.
- Pour your pesto into a jar and cover with a thin layer of oil to prevent the basil from discolouring.