For the first nine years of my life, we lived in my Nana’s house in Bandra, Bombay (Mumbai). Picture this: a typical Catholic household flanked by Muslims on one side and Hindus on the other. Christmas, Eid and Diwali were a tasty exchange of marzipan, kheer and laddoos. Religious co-existence at its best!
It’s funny how certain childhood memories leave their mark on your mind. I remember how I often woke up to the sight of my Hindu neighbour doing her morning puja around the tulsi (Holy Basil) plant in their courtyard.
So when I moved to Australia, I found it strange to see basil on supermarket shelves – in India, it was planted solely (soul-ly?) for religious reasons. I soon realised that the basil grown in Aussie backyards was Sweet Basil. One slice of a margharita pizza, and I was hooked!
Of course, now that winter’s well and truly made herself at home on Sydney, basil (a summer herb) has gone pricey. I wanted to get maximum mileage out of a bunch I bought recently. Hence this Pistachio Basil Pesto.
While traditional pesto is made using pine nuts and Parmesan, I’ve opted for pistachios and butter instead. Pistachios are my favourite nut – I love their green-tinged-with-a-pink-blush colour, I love their crunch and, most of all, I love their taste.
PISTACHIO PESTO aka BASIL BUTTER
1 cup basil leaves, plucked
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 clove garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
Wash and pat dry the basil leaves (discard the stems and make sure there is no water on the leaves). You can also add a couple of springs of coriander, if you like. Put all ingredients into a food processor and blitz until you get a smooth paste. Or leave it chunky, if you prefer the texture.
Top with a splash of oil and refrigerate until needed.
I use my batch of pesto / basil butter on anything and everything. We had it dolloped onto grilled salmon last week. I slathered some onto my husband’s sandwiches for lunch. Last night, I stirred some through our pasta. Versatile, eh?
So tell me, which is your favourite herb? And what’s the tastiest nut, in your opinion?