Overindulged a bit recently? Yeah, me too… Cue this delicious, quick to make and nutrient packed courgetti and homemade pesto. It’s so light but really satisfying. My pasta-fiend Mr. even asked if I had mixed spaghetti in with the courgette noodles (which I hadn’t) so I think we’re onto a winner!
Makes: 4 servings
Takes: 20 minutes
A food processor
A sharp knife
A large frying pan
A spiraliser or julienne peeler
60g fresh basil leaves
3 tbsp pine nuts
50g Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic
extra virgin olive oil
squeeze of lemon, optional
pinch of salt
- Gently toast the pine nuts for a couple of minutes in a dry frying pan over a medium heat to bring out the flavour and leave to cool.
- Wash and dry the basil then remove the stalks, leaving just the leaves. The stalks can discolour easily. For the most authentic pesto, only use the smaller, younger leaves (as you can see I didn’t do that this time).
- Gently pulse the basil leaves, garlic and a pinch of salt in your food processor. You can add more or less garlic as you like.
4. Add the toasted pine nuts to the mixture and whizz again. You’ll see that at this point, the basil leaves are still quite large – you don’t want to overdo it too early as everything will mulch together and you’ll lose that lovely texture.
5. Grate the Parmesan and whizz.
6. Add just enough olive oil to bind the sauce and gently pulse until all of the ingredients are blended and you’re happy with the texture – I use about 50ml of oil. Some recipes out there call for an obscene amount of oil – don’t bother, the flavour of the oil overpowers and it really doesn’t add anything (except to your waistline). You may want to add more oil if you intend to store the pesto for more than a couple of days, in which case, put it in a sterile jar and ensure there’s a slick of oil on top so no air reaches the sauce.
7. Add a little squeeze of lemon juice the the pesto at the end (optional).
Some people say that to make pesto just like an Italian granny you technically should chop everything by hand but ain’t nobody got time for that. So, I cheat and use a food processor! I’ve made this in a food processor, crushed in a pestle and mortar, and chopped with a mezzaluna. Honestly, they all taste the same. Pesto made by hand rather than with a machine can have a different texture with larger bits, but that’s why you carefully and gently pulse the food processor so your ingredients don’t mulch together too much. To try it by hand, just follow the recipe above but chop everything using a mezzaluna.
1. Wash and dry your courgettes then use a spiralizer or julienne peeler to make your noodles. A spiralizer is much faster but I haven’t gotten around to buying one yet so I make do with this julienne peeler. It works fine but you do need to chop the last remaining courgette stubs into noodles with a sharp knife. You don’t need to peel the skin off although it does look more like spaghetti if you do – good for tricking the family into eating their 5 a day. You’ll want one medium courgette per person, more for hungry tummies!