While this was never intended to become a fresh produce blog and then a food blog, this particular post might have you wondering. A few years ago I stopped over in Abu Dhabi for a day and experienced an exceptional tasty pesto that formed part of my lunch in the very grand gilt edged Emirates Palace Hotel. I asked for the ingredients and learnt it was a concoction based on walnuts then tomatoes and more. A couple of years ago I decided to experiment with creating pestos using different nuts, herbs and spices and I recall a luncheon party where I prepared six dishes with six different pestos. Since then, and because as a vegan I need to include protein in my meals, regularly I create nutty pestos. Mention the word and most think immediately of basil leaves and pine nuts. Seldom do I use either.
Recently I was fortunate to be given a pile of Hobart grown hazelnuts. What to do with them? The decision was easy. Pestos of course, and in past weeks I have tried out a few combinations. Let me take you through the latest mix.
Shelling the hazelnuts with the nut cracker wasn’t easy. Some nuts were crushed in the process and needed to be used immediately. These were the base ingredient that I poured into my stone mortar.
The other ingredients added to the mortar were rock salt, walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, flat leaf parsley, small hot chillies which I had preserved in extra virgin olive oil, and a sachet of tomato paste.
With the pestle I crushed and crushed and crushed until I had a course paste.
How did I use this pesto and where? On cooked slices of zucchini, halved mini squashes and green beans.
I boiled a portion of brown rice to accompany these vegetables. In all, this perfectly balanced meal was incredibly filling and tasty.
To be fair, while this pesto gave a pleasant contrasting texture and was wonderfully flavoursome, the natural flavour of the hazelnuts was lost.