Friday, May 14, 2010

Summer basil has gorn...but not forgotten

Interestingly, it seems to be Pesto Week on television.  On Italian Food Safari, Lucio Galletto showed how us to make pesto (with untoasted pinenuts, as they release their own oil), while on MasterChef Australia, the elimination challenge featured Genovese Pesto.

This is a basil pesto that I whipped up last weekend, after a trip to the markets. Unfortunately, summer is all but over and the basil leaves are large and bordering on bitterness.  Luckily, we can just add more parmesan cheese to cover it up...

The pesto is served with some chicken breast and roast vegetables.  Fortunately in this case, autumnal veges are currently in season and begging to be roasted, baked and finally anointed with a cheesey pesto.

Basil Pesto with Chicken and Roast Vegetables

makes 1 ½ cups
• 1 bunch fresh basil leaves, picked
• 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed
• ½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
• 1 tblsp lemon zest, finely grated
• ¼ cup olive oil

Baked Vegetables
• Vegetables such as kent or jap pumpkin (sliced), baby potatoes, red onion (quartered)

• For each person, 1 x 200g chicken breast

1. Place basil, pine nuts, garlic, lemon zest and parmesan in a food processor. Process until finely chopped and combined.
2. With motor running, add olive oil in a thin, steady stream. Process until combined. Transfer to a bowl. Pesto can be stored covered in refrigerator for up to 3 days. Cover with a layer of olive oil to stop the basil from darkening.
3. For the vegetables, preheat oven to 200 deg C/ 400 deg F. In a baking tray, toss the vegetables in oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven until done, about 20-30 minutes.
4. For the chicken, preheat a barbecue plate or chargrill on medium. Brush chicken with oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes each side or until cooked through.
5. To serve, slice the chicken and top of some roast vegetables. Serve basil pesto on the side.


Gorgeously autumnal colours...

Topped with basil.


  1. Thank you! I think my basil plant is slowly dying in my backyard. What a perfect way to use it.

  2. Hey Bel, summer is starting here, so I'm saving this recipe. Your photos are extra lovely on this post by the way-you know I have photo envy (smile)!

  3. Are you sure you didn't sneak some CASHEWS in there?!?!!

    Gorgeous pesto and roast veg - I had roast vegies for lunch yesterday and I think I may just do the same again today!

  4. Yuummm pesto! Hee hee cheese makes everything better! and you should had tried it by mortar and pestle too hee hee

  5. Great looking pesto. I love having it stirred through some hot pasta as a quick weeknight snack.

  6. Heh, even though summer is way over, I still have some very sad basil leaves hanging about in a pot.... Unfortunately they've been mostly chewed up by cabbage moth caterpillars - gah so there's not enough to make pesto! Your pesto looks great though.

  7. Yummy dinner! Your pesto looks lovely and lush. Chicken and pesto must get married. They are perfect for each other!

  8. Don't we all get influenced by MC with what we cook..... Your pesto looks great!

  9. My 3 basil plants are on the verge now. Luckily I have harvested and made heaps of pesto and stored in the freezer. Yours looks awesome!

  10. Pesto is one of my favourites. I'd put it over my breakfast cereal if I could :)

  11. hi bekl this is our time to get some summer food at last !! pesto reminds me my vacation in Italy !! Cheers from paris Pierre

  12. I LOVE BASIL! Pesto is so easy to make and taste so good! The colours of your dish are gorgeous.

  13. My basil plant is also about to go now... I'd better pick the last of its leaves to make this. Thanks Belle - while you mentioned it was pesto week I've not been keeping up with masterchef so it's good to see this on your blog!

  14. i love all the meals you cook - they're always full of fresh ingredients and they look fantastic. this recipe is no exception!

  15. how lovely to be reminded of gorgeous summer flavours. I want to marry basil....yep the herb, so I'd love this any day of the week!!

  16. Baked veggies smothered in cheesy pesto sounds divine! Adding extra cheese for bitter basil is a smart idea.

  17. For some reason my basil is abundantly growing this will be trying this recipe out, looks fantastic!

  18. Oh yay! Been on the lookout for a good pesto recipe for a while. Can't wait to try with some fresh fettucine and roast pumpkin.