Tuesday, February 23, 2016

My Homespun Year..Peasant Pesto + Marinated Feta...

This Rustic Hand Hewn Peasant Pesto is about to become the new gift de jour for our foodie friends. It's lush aroma, and chunks of nuts and garlic elevate pesto to a whole new level. 

You may recall I mentioned my friend La-La's legendary pesto in my Orchids on your Budget series last Christmas which you can read here

Well, sorry La-La, there's a new Pesto kid on the block, and it's mouthwatering. I do love you still though...

This one came about because we had, as luck would have it, run out of La-La's Legendary Pesto, and we quite fancied some with gluten free fettucine for lunch on Saturday. Sadly, no food processor graces our shelves, as I am determinedly simplifying round here. A hand held Sunbeam Mixmaster serves all needs, and if that fails, well we do it by hand folks!

Thinking laterally, I reasoned that a food processor is just blades, so scanned my kitchen utensils for something other than a knife to make my pesto. 

Cue angelic voices....

Pizza wheel. Yes. Pizza wheel, the thing that you use to swan around pizzas with to slice them quickly and efficiently. It's a blade, it's quick, it had to work, right?

I grabbed the alien like bunches of Basil my son had gifted me, (another lesson in 'grow something'...his is going nuts!), folded them into a neat bundle, and set to work. Whiz the pizza wheel through the bunch of basil to cut it into shorter bundles, turn (as you would a ball of dough for kneading), whiz the wheel through it again. Continue turning the basil, and slicing with the pizza wheel, till you have a lovely mound of still chunky, but finely chopped basil. Yes you could use a knife, but where's the adventure in that, I ask you?

Peel 2 garlic cloves, and bash them with the flat side of a large knife, before likewise, cutting them into finely diced chunks. No garlic press please. It has to be all lumpy and textured for the balance of textures and flavour to be right.

Add a good handful of freshly grated parmesan. I am lucky enough to have a proper parmesan grating thingo like this...

Avanti - Rotary Cheese Grater 
It's called a rotary cheese grater and it is small enough to sit in my utensil drawer, unlike a food processor. I then used this same thingo, to roughly chop a small handful of cashews.

All of that went into a bowl, and I then covered the lot in several glugs of good extra virgin olive oil. A stir, more olive oil, another stir. There should be enough olive oil in there, for it to barely cover the now collapsed basil. Add a pinch of salt if you like, and leave it alone for at least an hour.

Now it's basically ready to use, and use it we did, tossing it with our fettucine, and slurping our way most inelegantly through a dang fine lunch.

As a gift, you'd scoop this, all fragrant and lush, into a little jar, attaching a rustic looking bamboo spoon or ceramic scoop to the side with twine.

So that one takes about ten minutes. NO more, I promise.

The marinated feta takes under two minutes, no worries, and once tried, you will be addicted.

Imagine the effect, an oil bath, scented with aromatics like thyme, garlic and chilli, has on a humble cube of feta cheese. The cheese becomes infused with the flavour of the herbs, and the oil turns a cube of salty stuff, into a thing of beauty that melts in the mouth.

All you do is cube some firm feta..I just use a Danish one that comes in a packet at the supermarket...no need to be fussy because the oil and herbs are going to do their thang for you.

Pop into a clean recycled jar, pour oil to cover (you can use any oil, even plain old vegetable, but  olive oil is yummy after all the feta is gone, as a salad drizzle), add a teaspoon or two of dried thyme (or a sprig of fresh if you have it), a whole red chilli, and two whole, peeled garlic cloves. Seal firmly.

Now all you do is rotate this gently twice a day for a week, and it's ready. Well, it's really ready the next day, but the longer you leave it, the better the flavour will be.

Now either of these items easily sell for big bucks in delicatessens, and gourmet aisles at the supermarket. A tiny jar of marinated feta will relieve you of around $12 here, and the pesto...a good one...that much again if not twice that much.

My little jar of pesto cost mere cents, and the marinated feta about $4 for a jar twice the size of the one selling at the supermarket for $12.

Not only that, but these two luxury foods will have us feeling like kings for the next week, and that can't be beat.

Pop these into a basket with some good quality fettucine and some crackers and you have a gift to please any foodie, male or female. They'll be your slave for life.

Give it a try. You won't regret it.

Oh, I might have lied about the slave for life thing. But they will love you.

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  1. I like this idea Mimi. I think people would like a homemade hamper of beautifully packaged gourmet goods. I love fetta so I will definitely marinate some as suggested.
    I didn't know there was a 'pesto' plant?

    1. ROFL Janiebabe! I've just corrected that error. What a dufus I am. It's a basil plant of course! Glad to see you here...xxx

  2. Thank you for sharing the recipe and also for the tip about using the pizza wheel to cut the herbs. Genius! :)

    1. Needs must, eh Debbie? Thanks...I hope that tip is helpful. Mimi xxx

  3. The marinated feta doesn't sound too hard to do, Mimi. I will give it a try and have it with some pesto and fettucini and will think of you while I eat it :-)

    1. You'll love it Chel...maybe a bit too much...lol! Mimi xxx

  4. You crack me up! Your blog and your posts are generally so elegant, so seeing you go all peasant on us is fun! And your pizza wheel idea is brilliant!
    Blessings, Leigh

    1. Lol Leigh...yes there are many facets to Mimi...glad you like the pizza wheel idea :) Mimi xxx

  5. A pizza wheel comes in handy at times. I have never made pesto nor did I know there was a pesto plant. Thanks for sharing the recipe and enjoy your day.


    1. Oh Sandi, thankyou! It's not a pesto plant of course! It's a basil plant...I've just corrected it as you were the second person to mention it. I'm such a dufus! Mimi xxx

  6. Hi Mimi,

    These both sound wonderful, I'd like to make some as gifts. Would you know how long each would keep?



I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx