I think I prefer this English version of pesto even to the classic Italian basil one. It’s lighter and more versatile. It’s good with pasta, on pizza, or just as flavoring for salad dressing, or indeed to serve with grilled chicken or lamb chops. Just about anything really!
2 squares of focaccia
4–6 big slices of ripe tomato
For the pesto
3 tbsp walnut pieces
bunch of parsley (about 1oz)
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/3 cup finely shredded Cheddar cheese
5 tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put the walnuts on a baking sheet and into the hot oven for 5 minutes to toast. Or toast them in the microwave for 5 minutes, giving them a stir halfway through.
Chop the stalks of the parsley, which have a lot of flavor you don’t want to waste, with a sharp knife. (Chopping in the machine can result in stringy bits – better to start by hand.) Put them, the parsley leaves and garlic into a blender and chop briefly. Then add the Cheddar and walnuts and blend again. At this point you will need to add the oil to loosen the paste. When everything is in, blitz to a smooth-ish sauce and season with salt and pepper.
Toast or broil the focaccia pieces to warm them through, then spread with the pesto and overlap the tomato slices on top.
The pesto will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge if stored in a jar with a little more oil on top to keep the air out. But it will lose its brilliant color, sadly.
To make it vegan, use vegan Cheddar or any other hard vegan cheese.
Excerpted from Bliss on Toast: 75 Simple Recipes by Prue Leith. Reprinted by permission of Bloomsbury USA.
Each week, The Splendid Table brings you stories that expand your world view, inspire you to try something new and show how food brings us together. We rely on you to do this. And, when you donate, you'll become a member of The Splendid Table Co-op. It's a community of like-minded individuals who love good food, good conversation and kitchen companionship. Splendid Table Co-op members will get exclusive content each month and have special opportunities for connecting with The Splendid Table team.
Donate today for as little as $5.00 a month. Your gift only takes a few minutes and has a lasting impact on The Splendid Table and you'll be welcomed into The Splendid Table Co-op.