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The traditional way in Genoa is to serve pesto on little triangles of leftover pasta, known as trofie. It’s excellent with any kind of spiral shapes, which keep the sauce within the strands. When the pasta is drained and returned to the sauce pan, toss in a little olive oil, then the pesto. Don’t heat; overheating can cause the vibrant colour to deteriorate. Drizzle into soups just before serving. Delicious in a simple potato soup, fish soups and clear soups, with pasta added for substance. Try swirling a stream of pesto onto plates with fillets of fish such as plaice and sole topped with parmesan and grilled for five minutes.
Top rounds of toasted bread with pesto to make easy bruschetta or tapas. At home, we can make pesto from parsley to good effect. Basil needs a good summer and is easily affected by black spot and pests.
ESTO, one of the most delicious and easy sauces to use, is full of health benefits. On a recent trip to Italy I spent time in Genoa, the home of pesto, and learned what it takes to make a good one. For it to be as healthy as possible, it should have no chemical additives to preserve it and so when bottled have a shelf life of no longer than a month. Below are seven key ingredients used to make a five-star pesto, some of which are local to Liguria, the region in northwest Italy of which Genoa is the capital. BASIL is top of the list and needs to be picked when young and still pale green. Sadly, it’s pretty impossible to grow it to this level of perfection in any decent quantity in Ireland. Rich in volatile oils, basil helps digestion, has antiseptic properties and has a mild sedative effect. PARMIGIANO REGGIANO, known to us in Ireland simply as Parmesan cheese, it has plenty of protein and calcium and also some fat, though in the quantity used in pesto is not worth worrying about. In this case it is finely grated and the best pesto uses parmesan aged for 24 moths for depth of flavour. SARDO CHEESE also provides protein and fat and the smoked version known as fiore di sardo, from Sardinia, used in the best pesto I’ve tasted, is added to give a gentle smokiness. Fiore refers to the flor mould which forms on the cheese as it matures. OLIVE OIL is one of pesto’s key ingredients and adds superb health properties. At its best it is glossy and smooth and has fruity flavours. The more peppery type is not used to avoid overpowering the basil. GARLIC and its antioxidant properties adds to the nutritional value of pesto. The manufacturer I visited uses garlic from Vessalico, a village near Imperia in Western Liguria close to France, where the garlic is pink and gently pungent. PINE NUTS add to pesto’s protein content with plenty of vitamin E, potassium, magnesium and zinc. They provide a wonderful gritty texture, and the key to a good pesto is the degree to which they are toasted.
FRESH MIX: Traditional Italian pesto contains seven ingredients, but no preservatives and so has a shelf life of no more than a month.
Perfect PESTO Lightly is ideal, and just enough to give aroma as well as flavour. SEA SALT comes from Sicily and not much is used as the cheeses are salty. The Olio and Farina pesto factory I visited is a simple operation where the top quality ingredients need little but perfectly timed crushing and mixing. As in every food product, sourcing of ingredients is the key, and locating the factory near where the basil is grown was essential. Once the pesto is made, the 20 tonnes they produce every year are bottled quickly, covered with a layer of olive oil and topped with a lid that seals it and al-
Gone all fruity — at a price
Pies no longer in the sky
FLAHAVAN’S, the oats manufacturers have added dried fruit to their porridge. Sunrise Fruits includes 8% sultanas, 7% raisins, 5% pineapple, 5% papaya and 5% cranberries. There is an apple and raisin variety too. High levels of sugars here as the dried fruit has added glucose syrup and also sulphur dioxide as preservative. F2.39 for 600g is expensive for this fruit addition considering that Flahavan’s Jumbo Oats cost SWEET LIFT: Flahavan’s have added F1.99 for 1kg and regular Progress Oatlets are just F1.52 dried fruit to their traditional plain per kg. porridge.
THOSE concerned about air miles will be pleased to hear that Cully & Sully have relocated their pie manufacturing from France to Lusk, Co Dublin where a wind turbine will soon power production. Sizes of the seven pies which includes 5 new flavours are 100g larger than the originals and the ceramic dishes are no longer used. The Shepherd’s Pie made traditionally from Irish lamb, potatoes, onions, garlic puree, cream and tomato puree, has a
wholesome flavour and the beef and mushroom is rich and beefy. Five of the pies are gluten free. Priced at F5.49 for 400g.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2008
lows it to be kept, chilled, for a month. Free from preservatives, in our pesto survey last year it was a clear winner and closest to any I have tasted made by Italians in their homes. It’s a tradition they take great pride in and every mamma thinks hers is the best. Having tasted each ingredient, I could see how important each one was for the overall result. Olio & Farine is in Limerick, Galway and Drogheda and their pesto and other delicious products can also be bought by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. All will put corporate and private gift baskets together.
Just the recipe JUDY KAVANAGH of The Cook Club has joined Mykidstime.ie to write a free monthly e-newsletter. The Galway-based website lists activities, classes and clubs for children, as well as information on services and events for children and families. and events. For more information log on to www.mykidstime.ie or email email@example.com
CORK Free Choice Consumer Group will host a talk on traditional Irish plant remedies by Kevin Crowley at Crawford Art Gallery Café on Thursday October 30, at 7.30pm. Entrance F6 including tea or coffee.