I recently fell in love with making pesto with the mortar and pestle. It sounds more laborious than it is, and in any case all exertion simply dissipates in the feelings of pride you feel for doing things the artisanal way!
Too, I found out that all you need is 4 key ingredients…
Making pesto is easy!
Beetroot and sunflower seeds are among my favourite pesto bases because the flavours go really well together. I get a fresh bunch of bright red beetroots from Abalimi Harvest Of Hope in my super convenient weekly vegetable bag, which is still sitting in my fridge waiting to be chopped up! You have to be careful with sunflower seeds though, as South African varieties are GMO and although labelling is supposedly on it’s way, there’s no reliable GMO labeling for sunflower seeds yet. Hence, I source mine from Nature’s Choice, who offers GMO-free sunflower seeds at an affordable price.
Before we proceed with this recipe, let me reveal the secret of a good pesto once and for all. It’s all about 2 things, firstly a good flavour-match and secondly the right quantities of ingredients.
The right Quantities for 1 small jar of Pesto
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed with some sea salt
- 1 tbsp cold-pressed natural oil from Crede
- 2 small beetroots or two small handful of leafy vegetables (beetroot, spinach, rocket, kale eg.)
- 2 small handful of fresh herbs (half basil/half parsley works excellently)
- 1 small handful of locally and ethically produced organic hard cheese
- 1 small handful of seeds and/or nuts (walnut, peanuts, sunflower seeds eg.)
- 1/2 handful of extra flavour such as lemon zest, finely chopped olives, fresh chilli, coriander, dill or a few drops of organic sesame oil eg.
The right composition of ingredients to create a winning flavour combination is just as important! My beetroot and sunflower pesto took me less than 30 minutes. All local, fresh and nutritious ingredients, sourced from trusted suppliers and South African brands we love.
- 2 small beetroots and 1/2 a small red chili from Harvest Of Hope
- 2 small handful of fresh basil and 1/2 handful of lemon balm from, freshly harvested from Tyisa Nabanye‘s herb garden
- 1 handful of finely grated locally produced organic Pecorino from Constantia Cheesery
- 1 small handful of roasted non-GMO sunflower seeds from Nature’s Choice
- Zest of 1 small lemon from Wynberg Urban Organic Farm
- 1 tbsp of cold-pressed virgin organic Olive Oil from Crede
Start by pounding a fresh clove of garlic with a pinch of sea salt and virgin organic olive oil until smooth. Then slowly add your nuts and/or seeds and pound until you have a beautiful nutty garlic paste.
The herbs are next! Add them finely chopped (as fine as you can) to your garlic paste and keep pounding to combine the mixture and work in all your fresh herbs. Half way in this process, or whenever you notice the mixture becomes too dry, add a few drops of natural cold-pressed oil and a few sprinkles of finely grated cheese. Once your herbs are all thoroughly worked into your pesto add the rest of your cheese and see if your mixture needs a little more oil. To spice it up a little, I love some freshly grated lemon zest and fresh chilies in my pesto. Luckily I got some gorgeous organic lemons last Sunday at the Tyisa Nabanye market from the Wynberg Urban Organic Farm.