Good for: grown up dinner or mix it up with a bit of creme fraiche and give it to the kids with pasta on Monday.If you're anything like me you're always a bit over ambitious on the salad front. 'Of course we'll get through a packet of rocket, watercress and an iceberg this weekend' I think, as I have total amnesia regarding my sons' aversion to anything leafy - they're still young and find greenery difficult to eat. My husband, on the other hand, has a fine set of teeth, but he says he doesn't see the point of rocket, lollo rosso or any other exotically named lettuce.
This means that on a Sunday night there is often nothing more than several packs of wilting leaves at the back of the fridge - but as my frugality knows no bounds I see this as a perfect opportunity to perfect my Italian mama impersonation and whip up some pesto.
The great thing about pesto, which I realised recently, is that basil is just one option. There are loads of other things you can make it with - baby leaf spinach, rocket, watercress. Just vary the cheese and the nuts to complement the leaves and voila, a taste sensation. And the great thing about pesto is that as you put so much greenery in it, you don't need to serve it with a salad, which keeps my husband happy.
Start to finish: 10 minutes including cooking the pasta
Serves: 4 adult servings
4 small handfuls of rocket
75g blue cheese
2 garlic cloves
200ml olive oil
salt and pepper
Put pasta in boiling water in a big pan and while it's cooking remove any obviously mouldering leaves from your left-over rocket. My new motto is: if they're yellow or slimy - in the bin, anything else, whack 'em in!
Lightly toast walnuts in a pre-heated frying pan without any oil. Shake the pan to stop the nuts from burning. Put them in the food processor for a quick whizz and then add leaves and garlic. Add cheese and whizz again, then add oil and pulse. After a while the pesto will turn from a brilliant herby green to a paler emulsified consistency. Taste, season and then stir into cooked and drained pasta. Any leftover pesto can be put in a jam jar in the fridge, just put a layer of olive oil over it so it doesn't discolour. Left like this I reckon it would last for another month or so, just check it before you slather it all over your dinner.
Other combinations are...sundried tomatoes instead of the rocket, with parmesan and pine nuts;
baby spinach with feta and pine nuts; watercress, feta and lemon zest, the list is endless, just see what you have left in the fridge.
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Tired and tested: an expert's view on what to drink at the end of a hard day: "Pesto needs decent flavour and acidity from a wine. By Sunday night, a glass of red is in order: go for a Chilean Pinot Noir."