Mint Pesto

Mint Pesto with Walnuts

This Mint Pesto is made with fresh mint, roasted walnuts, garlic and parmesan cheese blended together with olive oil. It takes ten minutes to make and all you need to do is stir it into a bowl of cooked pasta for an quick and easy supper.

I love traditional pesto made with basil. Once or twice each summer, I will buy a bunch of fresh basil and make it from scratch at home. I also often buy the ready-made pesto that you can find in chiller cabinets at the supermarket. My inspiration to make Mint Pesto was simply that I have a huge amount of mint growing in my garden. Each year, my patch of mint seems to get larger and I struggle to find culinary uses for it.

Mint and Walnut Pesto

What you need to know about Mint Pesto

  • It is not too strongly minty. Before I tried making pesto with mint, I was concerned that it might taste too strongly minty. However, the mint is balanced by other strong flavours – garlic and parmesan – so it actually has quite a delicate flavour.
  • I use walnuts, rather than the pine-nuts which are used in traditional pesto, in this recipe. I think the flavour of walnuts goes particularly well with mint. However, if you prefer, you can use pine-nuts or hazelnuts instead of walnuts.
  • Whatever kind of nuts you use, it is really important to dry fry them (step 1) as this really brings out their nutty flavour. Simply put the nuts in a frying pan, with no oil, and heat gently for about five minutes. Stir occasionally to turn the nuts and keep an eye on them to make sure that they do not burn.
  • When you are making this recipe, it really helps with the blending (step 3) if you crush or chop the ingredients roughly before you put them into the food processor.
  • It is very easy to increase (or decrease) this recipe depending on the number of people you have to feed. My recipe serves four people but you can halve it to serve two or quarter it to serve one.
  • If you have any left over Mint Pesto, you can keep it in a covered bowl in the fridge for up to five days. The bright green colour will become dull if the pesto is kept in the fridge. You can add a squeeze of lemon juice or pour a thin layer of olive oil over the top of the pesto to prevent this. This pesto also freezes well so you can make a big batch if you come across a lot of fresh mint.
How to use Mint Pesto

You can use Mint Pesto in all the ways that you can use pesto made with basil. I think it is great just stirred into cooked pasta. However, there are various additions that you can try.

  • You can add some green vegetables to the dish. I think peas and broad beans go particularly well with the delicate mint flavour of the pesto. However, runner or french beans are also a good option. Five minutes before your pasta is cooked, add 200 g of the vegetables to the pan. Drain and then stir in the pesto.
  • Adding some extra walnuts gives extra texture and flavour. When you dry fry the walnuts (step 1) add an extra 100 g (4 oz). Set these aside and roughly chop them. Add to the drained and pesto-coated pasta.
  • If you are not a vegetarian, you could stir in some pieces of chopped cooked ham or crispy bacon to the drained and pesto-coated pasta.
  • Another good addition is to stir in some pieces of soft white cheese to the warm pesto-coated pasta. They will melt slightly and boost both the flavour and “mouth feel” of the finished dish. You could use feta, which gives a hit of salty flavour, or mozarella which will add some extra creamy deliciousness.
Other simple pasta suppers

This recipe for Mint Pesto is a great week-night supper option. It is easy, tasty and uncomplicated and can be made in ten minutes. Here are some of my other simple pasta supper recipes.

  • Basic Tomato Sauce – this is an easy recipe for a rich sauce using store-cupboard ingredients. Delicious stirred into pasta as it is and open to lots of variations and additions!
  • Creamy Mushroom Pasta – this is simple vegetarian sauce combines mushrooms and chestnuts and lots of garlic. It can be used with any kind of pasta but I prefer it with short pasta such as gigli or penne.
  • Spaghetti with Smoked Salmon – this simple recipe can be made in 15 minutes. Smoked salmon trimmings are combined with fennel and chives and a squeeze of lemon.
  • Prawn Pasta with Herb Butter – this is another super-simple and super-quick recipe which can be adapted according to the herbs that you happen to have available.
  • Macaroni Cheese – this is a brilliant make-ahead vegetarian recipe which has a secret layer of caramelised onions and a bit of cayenne to balance its rich cheesiness. Topped with a layer of crisp breadcrumbs it is perfect served with a simple green salad.

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

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Mint and Walnut Pesto

Mint Pesto with Walnuts

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Total Time: 10
  • Yield: Serves 4 1x
  • Category: Sauce
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This quick and easy pesto uses fresh mint combined with toasted walnuts, garlic, parmesan and olive oil.   Stirred into cooked pasta, it is the perfect no-fuss vegetarian supper.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 100 g  (4 oz) walnut halves
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 100 g (4 oz) parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 50 g (2 oz) fresh mint leaves (roughly chopped)
  • 10 tablespoons oil (I use 5 extra virgin olive oil and 5 rapeseed oil)
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Put the walnuts in a frying pan and dry fry for around five minutes until toasted.
  2. Put the walnuts in a food processor or blender and add the crushed garlic, grated parmesan cheese and chopped mint leaves. 
  3. Add the oil and blend until you get a rough paste.
  4. Add salt to taste

Keywords: mint, pesto, sauce

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with Lost in Food and #Fiesta Friday with Fiesta Friday and  Laurena @ Life Diet Health

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

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Tomato Sauce Recipe

Easy, basic Tomato Sauce recipe

This made-from-scratch Tomato Sauce recipe uses store cupboard ingredients, can be made in under half an hour, can be kept in the fridge or frozen, and is the basis for many, many meals. It is a reduced puree of tomatoes, flavoured with onions and garlic, which can be used with pasta or in other dishes. It is the one recipe that I have made sure all my children know how to cook before they leave home as, if you have mastered it, you will always be half an hour away from a tasty and nutritious meal.

What you need to know about my Tomato Sauce recipe

This is a very easy recipe. If you have never cooked anything before, you should be able to cook this. The key ingredient in this sauce is time. Yes, time not thyme! You need to cook the onions slowly for 15 minutes to make sure that they are sweet and caramelised. Don’t skip this step. If you cook them low and slow they will have a fantastic savoury sweetness which will make your sauce particularly delicious. You need to keep an eye on them to make sure that they don’t burn as this will make your sauce taste bitter. You also need to allow the full 15 minutes for the sauce to simmer uncovered to allow some of the liquid to evaporate. This will mean that the sauce thickens and the flavour intensifies. The end result should be naturally sweet but, if you wish, you could add a little sugar at the end if you feel it needs it.

This Tomato Sauce recipe uses store-cupboard ingredients which means you should always have the makings to hand and that you can make it all the year around. In late summer, when fresh tomatoes are in season, I will often use these to make sauce. It is fresh and delicious when made with good quality tomatoes. However, for the rest of the year, I used tinned tomatoes which have a great intensity of flavour. I was once told by an Italian friend that it was better to use whole tinned tomatoes rather than the chopped-up variety because the latter was where the poorer quality fruit were used. Personally, I have not found a huge difference in taste between whole and chopped tinned tomatoes.

This sauce is a very simple vegan recipe. It consists of oil, onion and tomatoes flavoured with garlic and bay leaf. However, there are lots of variations, as set out below.

Tomato Sauce variations
  • You can use butter, instead of oil, if you would like your tomato sauce to be richer. You can also add a tablespoon of double cream if you want it even richer still.
  • If you are in a hurry, you can leave out the onions, start the recipe by frying the garlic for a few minutes and follow the recipe from step 4.
  • You can add chopped celery sticks together with the onion at step 3. Celery is a brilliant ingredient for adding a depth of flavour to recipes and will add another level of taste to your sauce.
  • You can add a chopped fennel bulb together with the onion at step 3. This gives the sauce a mild aniseed flavour which is excellent if you are serving it with fish.
  • Another good variation if you are serving the sauce with fish is to add a generous pinch of saffron and a curl of orange peel (without the pith) to the sauce at step 5.
  • You can add a few anchovy fillets together with the onion at step 3. The anchovies will melt into the sauce and give an extra savoury depth of flavour to the sauce.
  • If you want a bit of heat to your sauce, you could add a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes at step 5.
  • You can add other herbs to the sauce. If you are using dried herbs, add at step 5 together with the tomatoes and bay leaf. If you are using fresh herbs, add right at the end of cooking. Basil and oregano are good options.
  • You can add a dash of wine, either red or white, at the end of cooking. This will add acidity and richness to the sauce. Two or three tablespoons is sufficient.
Uses for basic Tomato Sauce

This recipe makes approximately 1 litre (35 fl oz) of sauce. It will keep for two or three days in the fridge and can be frozen. You can use it as a simple sauce for pasta as it is and it also makes a great basis for a whole range of other pasta sauces. It is also good as an accompaniment to vegetables, fish or meat.

Basic Tomato Sauce Recipe
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Tomato Sauce

Tomato Sauce Recipe

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 1x
  • Category: Sauce
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This quick and easy Tomato Sauce recipe, made from store-cupboard ingredients, is fantastic with pasta and is at the basis for a wide range of other sauces.  


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tins of tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper
  • A little sugar (optional)


Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan or deep frying pan.
  2. Peel and finely chop the onions and add to the pan.
  3. Fry the onions over a very low heat until soft and caramelised.  This will take about 15  minutes.
  4. Peel and crush the garlic cloves and add them to the pan.
  5. Add the tomatoes and the bay leaf.
  6. Simmer uncovered until the sauce is rich and thick.  This will take about 15 minutes.
  7. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper.  You can add a little sugar (half a teaspoon) if you feel the sauce needs to be sweetened.


Keywords: tomato, sauce, easy

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with A Strong Coffee and #Fiesta Friday with Fiesta Friday,  Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons

Loved this recipe? You may also like the following recipes. Or checkout the Recipe Index.

Cold tomato soup
Tomato Soup
Tomato Tart

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Bread Sauce Recipe

Easy, freshly-made Bread Sauce recipe

Try this home-made Bread Sauce recipe and you will never again use ready-made or packet versions! Most importantly, it tastes fantastic. It is rich, creamy and buttery. It is warm and soothing and delicately flavoured with nutmeg and bay. It is also exceptionally easy to make and requires little or no culinary skill and can be made ahead and then gently re-heated so it is a brilliant side dish for a big, celebratory meal.

Its Christmas dinner – don’t panic!

This recipe is one that my mother used to make at Christmas. It is a fantastic sauce to have with a big festive dinner as its creaminess enhances the drier ingredients, such as turkey or vegetarian main courses such as nut roast. I always think that producing a tasty Christmas dinner is difficult even for experienced cooks. Not only are you producing dishes that you may only make once a year, you are often doing it for a large number of people who may have a wide range of food preferences and your thought processes on the day may well be impacted by a higher than average intake of alcohol! My Christmas dinner tips, which helped me when I first took on the role of primary Christmas dinner cook, are as follows.

Some Christmas dinner tips

  • Do not panic.
  • Plan it as you would any other meal. That is, that it needs a centrepiece (turkey, nut-roast, wellington), something to add juiciness (gravy), something to add zest (Cranberry Sauce), something to add richness (Bread Sauce), something to add texture (roast potatoes and stuffing), something for everyone to hate (Brussels Sprouts) – just kidding, I am actually a sprout lover and impose them on my family once a year at Christmas time..
  • Keep it simple. I generally don’t bother with a starter on the basis that, unless you are in training as the next presenter of Man v Food, full Christmas dinner plus pudding is sufficient. I do serve very simple canapes and nibbles (Cheese Biscuits, Spiced Nuts) when everyone starts with the aperitifs in order to try to absorb the alcohol.
  • Do as much of the preparation as possible the day before (peeling vegetables, making stuffing, Cranberry Sauce, Bread Sauce etc).
  • Delegate tasks whenever possible. Granny can decorate the table. Even young children can peel vegetables.
  • Write out in advance on a bit of paper when everything needs to start cooking. You will need this once you start hitting the champagne at 11.00 am.
  • Do not stress about dessert. A shop-bought Christmas Pudding which can be heated in the microwave is the way to go. Or why not just have Mince Pies?
  • Do not panic – did I say that already?
  • For guidance on dealing with family disputes and/or feuds, dealing with the combination of a range of political views and a large quantity of alcohol and people of all ages who do not like their presents, I am afraid you will have to look elsewhere.

Bread Sauce Recipe

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Bread Sauce

Bread Sauce Recipe

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 5
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 1x
  • Category: Sauce
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This home-made Bread Sauce recipe is quick and easy to make.  It has a rich creaminess, flavoured with bay and nutmeg, which is a sumptuous addition to any celebratory meal.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 300 ml milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • Grated nutmeg
  • 75 g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 75 g butter
  • 100 ml double cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 


Instructions

  1. Peel and chop the onion.
  2. Put the chopped onion into a small saucepan.  Add the milk, bay leaf and peppercorns. 
  3. Heat the milk until it starts to gently bubble.  Don’t let it boil over!
  4. At this point, you can set aside the milk without removing the flavourings.  Once it is cool, leave it in the fridge overnight and then use as from step 5.  This allows the flavour to develop.  However, if you want to eat the breadsauce on the same day, you can just proceed as from step 5.
  5. Strain the milk to remove the flavourings. 
  6. Pour the flavoured milk into a small saucepan and add the grated nutmeg, breadcrumbs, butter and cream.
  7. Heat gently, stirring to combine, until the butter is melted.
  8. Serve warm topped with a little more grated nutmeg.

Bread Sauce


Notes

It is very easy to make your own breadcrumbs.  Just tear or cut white bread into large pieces and then process for a few seconds in a blender or food processor.  It works best if the bread is proper, crusty bread and if it is slightly stale.

It is really worth obtaining your grated nutmeg from actually grating a whole nutmeg rather than using ready-grated nutgmeg.  You can buy a jar of whole nutmegs in most supermarkets and then just use a food grater to grate what you need into your dishes.  Just smell the freshly grated nutmeg and you will understand!

Keywords: bread sauce, seasonal sauce, roast dinner

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with Everyday Healthy Recipes and #Fiesta Friday with Fiesta Friday.

Loved this recipe? You may also like the following recipes. Or checkout the Recipe Index.

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Fresh Cranberry Sauce

Fresh Cranberry Sauce with White Wine and Orange

This is my mother’s recipe for Fresh Cranberry Sauce. She made it once a year on Christmas Eve, ready to be served up on Christmas Day as an accompaniment to the turkey. I have no idea where she originally found the recipe but it was hand-written on a scrap of paper in the tattered recipe file that I inherited from her so I think it is one that she got from somewhere else rather than made up herself.

Why bother making Cranberry Sauce?

There are lots of jars of very good quality Cranberry Sauce which are available all year around and practically fill the sauce shelf in the supermarket in the run-up to Christmas. So why would you bother to make your own? These are the reasons why I make it – hopefully they will encourage you to give it a try!

It smells of Christmas

For me, Christmas smells of this Cranberry Sauce. Whenever I make it, I am transported back to my childhood and to Christmas Eve. There is something about the fruity tang of the cranberries, combined with white wine, orange and cinnamon that captures the Christmas spirit for me. If you make it, take a big old sniff when you are cooking the cranberries and tell me that I am wrong! Even if you do not have any childhood memories associated with it, making this sauce is a pretty good way to get into the Christmas cooking vibe.

It is not just for turkey (or, in fact, for Christmas)

Cranberry Sauce is the traditional accompaniment to Christmas turkey. However, as someone who cooks a Christmas dinner that has to meet a whole range of dietary choices, I know that it goes pretty well with other things too. I serve both turkey and a vegetarian option, usually some kind of pie, and the Cranberry Sauce goes brilliantly with both. Although my mother made this sauce only for Christmas and never at any other time, I make it fairly often during the winter. It is a staple of Sunday lunch and, as you will see below, any left over sauce can be used as the basis of lots of other dishes.

It is really easy to make and can be made in advance

Making this sauce is really easy. It has only a few ingredients and is very quick to make. You can serve it hot but I think it is better if you allow it cool and thicken and let the flavours develop. Therefore, I generally make it a day in advance which is great if you are preparing a big celebration meal as it is one less thing to do on the day.

It is really versatile and can be used as the basis for lots of other recipes

When I make this Cranberry Sauce, I generally leave the cranberries whole in the finished sauce. However, I know that some people find this a bit off-putting as they are used to sauces like this being smooth. If you prefer it that way, you can blend the sauce so that you get jelly with flecks of cranberry which is more like shop-bought versions.

If you have any Cranberry Sauce left over after your big meal, it will keep in the fridge for several days and goes very well with cold meats and vegetarian pies. It is also a brilliant ingredient that can be used to make a number of other recipes including Cranberry Ice Cream, Cranberry Pavlova or Cranberry Upside-Down Cake. I will be posting recipes for all of these on the blog in the next few weeks so watch this space!

Recipe for Fresh Cranberry Sauce with White Wine and Orange

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Cranberry Sauce

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 8
  • Total Time: 13 minutes
  • Category: Sauce
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This easy make-ahead Fresh Cranberry Sauce with White Wine, Orange and Cinnamon is the taste of Christmas!


Scale

Ingredients

  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 170 g caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 100 ml water
  • 225 g fresh cranberries

Cranberries


Instructions

  1. Grate the orange zest into a small pan.
  2. Add the cinnamon stick, sugar, wine and water.  Stir over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Add the cranberries.
  4. Bring to the boil then simmer very gently for eight minutes until the fruit is tender and most of the berries have burst.
  5. According to taste, you can either leave the cranberries intact or blend the sauce with a hand blender or food processor so that it is smooth.
  6. Cover and set aside to cool until ready to serve.  The mixture will thicken as it cools and the flavours will develop nicely.

Cranberry Sauce


Notes

The Cranberry Sauce will keep in the fridge for two to three days.  

Keywords: Cranberry Sauce, cranberries, Christmas

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with Glutarama and #Fiesta Friday with Fiesta Friday,  Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Antonia @ Zoale.com

Loved this recipe? You may also like the following recipes. Or checkout the Recipe Index.

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