An absolute classic recipe enhanced with the sweet, mellow flavours from roasted garlic and creamy mature cheddar cheese, this vibrant and versatile pesto is a constant in our fridge. Stir through pasta, drizzle on pizza, add to some roast new potatoes or grilled chicken and salmon, add to toasted sandwiches, swirl into soup, stir into savoury muffins or use simply as a dip. These are just a few ideas – use your imagination and conjure up flavourful meals and snacks in no time.
How to make Basil and Pine Nut Pesto with Roasted Garlic Confit
Collect all your ingredients together:
1 bulb of garlic
½ teaspoon olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
(OR, 1 clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped – see notes below)
To make a garlic confit you simply need to roast a whole bulb of garlic in the oven for 40 minutes. You end up with soft, creamy cloves with a rich, mellow, sweet flavour which add depth and complexity to your pesto. Whilst I really recommend this, I also appreciate that you may not want to switch on your oven for 40 minutes just to cook 1 bulb of garlic.
So, you can either replace it with 1 clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped and added to the pesto at the same time as the pinenuts or why not cook 2 or 3 bulbs and use the remainder up in other ways?
You could mash it and stir into casseroles, mashed potatoes, spread it on breads, such as bruschetta and/or crostini, or stir through risottos and pasta dishes. The options are endless; just remember this cooking and softening process means you can use much more garlic than when it is raw. A single clove of garlic can often be replaced by a whole bulb of confit – it seems a lot but it is a complex, mellow and gentle addition to any appropriate dish.
You need to slice the top ¼ from a bulb of garlic, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, wrap in foil and cook for 40 minutes in the oven. All you then need to do is squeeze out the cloves (and they should pop out very easily when squeezed) and use them in your pesto. For more information on Garlic Confit, see here.
Make the pesto:
make the garlic confit
toast the pine nuts, either in a frying pan or in the oven – for more information, see here.
pick the basil leaves from the stems, weigh just the leaves and not the stems as well
add the parmesan to the food processor and blitz until they are the size of breadcrumbs
add the cheddar and blitz again
add the pine nuts and and blitz (if using one clove of uncooked garlic, add now)
now add the basil and blitz until broken down.
add the garlic confit, seasoning and half the olive oil and blitz
slowly add the remaining olive oil through the spout as you continue to blitz until the pesto is smooth and fully blended
taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary
transfer to a lidded jar.
In the fridge: pesto needs to be stored, covered and in the fridge. Pour a little olive oil over the top of the pesto before covering. This will provide a protective layer over the pesto and keep it fresher and greener for longer. Each time you use it, add a little more olive oil. This way, you can keep it for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
In the freezer: alternatively, pesto freezes well. Transfer into an ice cube tray, pop the cubes out when frozen, bag and label. Keep for up to 3 months in the freezer.
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Basil and Pine Nut Pesto with Roasted Garlic Confit
An absolute classic recipe enhanced with the sweet, mellow flavours from roasted garlic and creamy mature cheddar cheese, this vibrant and versatile pesto is a constant in our fridge.
basil, garlic confit, mature cheddar, pesto, pine nuts
1 bulb of garlic
½ teaspoon olive oil
pinch of fine salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the basil pesto:
50g pine nuts
30g parmesan cheese, cubed
20g cheddar cheese, cubed
60g – 70g basil leaves – from 100g packet, leaves picked and stems removed
120ml mild flavoured olive oil
⅛ – ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
⅛ – ¼ teaspoon fine salt
⅛ teaspoon sugar
Make the garlic confit:
Preheat oven to Fan Oven 180°C/200°C/400°F/Gas 6
Slice the top quarter off a whole bulb of garlic. Put in the centre of a piece of foil.
Loosely gather the foil around the garlic, pour over ½ teaspoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Seal the foil around the top of the garlic, place on a baking tray and put in the oven for 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the confit out of the cloves. (If you cannot wait and the garlic is still hot, I use rubber gloves to protect my hands.)
Toast pine nuts:
To toast in a frying pan: heat a pan over a moderate heat. Add the pine nuts (no oil or anything else) and cook, stirring every now and then, until the pine nuts look a little browner than before. It should only take 2 – 3 minutes; do not take your eye off the pan as they can burn easily and quickly.
To cook in the oven: you can do this as the garlic confit cooks. Scatter the pine nuts on a baking tray (no oil or anything else) and cook in the oven for between 3 and 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Give the pan a shake after a 2 minutes and check how they are cooking. Ovens vary and they may already be done. Also, the nuts on the edges of the pan may cook more quickly than those in the centre, so give it a good shake or stir to ensure even cooking.
Whether you have toasted in the frying pan or on a baking tray, transfer to a different bowl as soon as they are cooked. This is to prevent further browning.
Make the pesto:
Using a food processor, add the ingredients in the order shown below, blitzing in between each addition:
· Parmesan cheese
· Cheddar cheese
· Pine nuts
· Garlic confit
· ½ the olive oil, salt, sugar and pepper
· Remaining olive oil
Process until thoroughly mixed and quite smooth. You may need to stop the processor and scrape down the sides.
Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Transfer the pesto into a sterilised jam jar and seal with a lid.
The pesto will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge. Pour a little olive oil over the top of the pesto each time you use it and return it to the fridge.
Alternatively, pesto freezes well. Transfer into an ice cube tray, pop the cubes out when frozen, bag and label and keep for up to 3 months in the freezer.
Piece of foil large enough to bring up around the sides of the garlic, scrunch together and seal