Spotlight on...

Spotlight on…PESTO

Ah pesto, a substance so deliciously rich and tasty there is nothing it doesn’t go with (try dipping your toast in it – go on I dare you!). This week we’re going to be taking a look at this versatile dip/sauce/love of my life and seeing how to make it, where it comes from and whats cheaper – buying it or making it?!

So what even is pesto?

Pesto is a sauce that originate from Genoa (the capital of Liguria, Italy) and comes from the Italian word pestâ which means ‘to pound’ (also gave rise to the English noun ‘pestle’ – fun fact). It is traditionally made with toasted pine nuts, salt, basil, olive oil, parmesan and garlic (some traditional variations also use pecorino sardo – a type of sheep’s milk cheese). It is common now, however, to have various types as long as they include a base of nuts, oil and cheese.

Where can I buy it from?

Any supermarket (and most convenience stores if they know whats good for them!) will stock it. Usually in the ‘red’ and ‘green’ variations. Red pesto (originating from Sicily) is made slightly differently, using sundried tomatoes and almonds instead of pine nuts. A standard sized jar of pesto (190g) averages at 97p (£1 Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Tesco. 90p Asda) which is 51p per 100g. HOWEVER; these do not use pine nuts rather they substitute with the cheaper cashew nuts which are not as tasty! Of course there are branded versions such as Sacla and Napolena, as well as pesto sold in the fresh aisles. However, buying the own branded pesto is your best bet (lets be honest, it all tastes the same!).

So we ask the question once again, is it cheaper to make your own or is it cheaper to buy it in? And how DO we make the perfect pesto?

Anna’s Avocados perfect pesto recipe:

  • 50g pine nuts
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 50g parmesan cheese
  • 150g fresh basil (I recommend getting a basil plant as they are way better value for money)
  • 100ml olive oil (give or take a few mls depending on your pesto liquid preference)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Makes a jar full:

1. Pop the grill on and lay out the pine nuts on an oil lined tray. Pop them under the grill until they turn a lovely golden colour – this may take around 5-10 minutes but keep checking on them.

2. Let them cool to room temperature and meanwhile grate the cheese and pop in a food processor with the basil, salt and garlic. Add a small amount of oil and blend.

3. After the pine nuts have cooled, add them to the food processor and blend.

4. Gradually add the oil until the desired consistency has been achieved.

5. Vola! Pesto for daaaaays

TOP TIP: You can freeze pesto super easy by popping it in an ice cube tray – you then have portion sized pesto for whenever your pestoy needs arise!

Cost: £3.17

VERDICT: Okay so its undoubtedly cheaper to buy it rather than make it. Although the flavour is a lot nicer when you homemade it as it uses traditional ingredients such as olive oil and pine nuts rather than rapeseed oil and cashews, to save your pennies buy it from own brand supermarket range – for a nicer flavour make it yourself!

Also have a go at making up your own concoction of pesto – any leftover cheese and nuts is all you need to start off a great sauce!

Spotlight on...

Spotlight on…HOUMOUS

As part of a new series on my blog, I’m bringing you my perfected classic houmous recipe and I’m going to prove to you that its way more cost-effective, tasty and versatile to make it yourself!

So what is even is houmous?

Houmous is one of the simplest dips you can make – the classic recipe contains just chickpeas, oil, lemon juice, tahini paste, garlic and greek yoghurt. It originates from the Levant and Egypt and is popular in Middle Eastern and North African cuisine. Various versions exist; for example Greek hummus contains greek yoghurt (which I use in my recipe), some cook or roast the chick peas prior to blending, some use butter, some use sesame oil, some serve it hot and some serve it with fruit… (check out this recipe from Half Baked Harvest – it looks ace!)

Where can I buy it from?

Premade houmous is sold in every supermarket and most convenient shops and averages at about 55p per 100g.* Variations include, classic, reduced fat, red pepper, lemon and coriander, caramelised onion, pesto, jalepeno, sweet chilli, ‘moroccan style’, piri piri, sundries tomato, amongst many others!

So with the average pot costing you about £1.10, why bother making your own, I hear  you ask. Maybe because it will cost you half of that to make. Let me give you the low down..

Recipe:

  • 1 Can of Chick Peas, drained
  • 2 teaspoons of tahini paste
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon greek yoghurt

Makes…around 350g (a standard shop bought pot is 200g)

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Pop the drained chick peas in a bowl and soak extra liquid up with a piece of kitchen roll. Pop a couple of teaspoons of oil over them and 1 clove of garlic and leave to soak for about 10 minutes.
  3. Pour the soaked chick peas on to a baking tray and roast until golden brown, ensuring you turn them to ensure they are evenly roasted (about 15-20 minutes).
  4. Remove from oven and leave until cool.
  5. Get out your blender and add the roasted chick peas and the greek yoghurt. Blend until combined.
  6. Next add the remaining garlic clove, the lemon juice, the tahini paste and combine. The mixture should be firm and fairly solid. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  7. Now, add the oil bit by bit until it reaches the consistency of your desire. The perfect houmous should liquidy enough to dip but solid enough to hold its shape. Remember to try it every so often whilst adding the oil!
  8. Transfer to a container and put it in the fridge to cool, ready for serving!

TIPS: You can freeze hummus! It makes extremely good lunch option – just pop it in your bag in the morning and it will have defrosted by lunch time and be lovely and cold.

Savings:

This recipe costs around 27p per 100g and gets even cheaper when you make a bigger batch! This is a saving of just over 50%, plus it tastes way nicer.

Nutrition:

So what about the ‘Reduced Fat’ alternatives. Lets take a gander shall we?
The only difference in the recipes between regular houmous and reduced fat is the chickpea content and the addition of cornflour. Below you can see the nutritional differences between all three options.

hummus-1
Information was gathered from Morrisons classic and reduced fat hummus. (Typical serving size: 50g)

There are more carbohydrates in the homemade version because it uses greek yoghurt but less fat and less calories. Considering the quantity you get from the homemade houmous and the similar nutritional value to the reduced fat remade version, I’d say making it yourself is worth it.

In addition, the premade houmous had added preservatives and used rapeseed oil instead of the traditional olive oil that tastes a whole lot nicer.

So there we have it! It would be great to hear your thoughts on this chickpea goodness so drop me a comment or tweet!

ALSO: Its International Houmous Day on Saturday 13th May – what better excuse to whip up a batch!

(There’s even a website..!)

 

*Stats collected from Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda