Thursday 21 March 2013

Mint Pesto with pan fried Salmon

I think I saw the yellow reduced label before I had a chance to work out what herb plant was inside the plastic wrapper. It turned out to be mint. I can't say I've ever used much mint in my cooking but I thought something alive and green would cheer up my kitchen window sill in these days of everlasting gloom and darkness.

So it sat in its pot having regular waterings until Jen at Blue Kitchen Bakes announced that as this month's host of Pasta Please! she had decided the theme to be pesto. Pasta Please! is a monthly challenge organized by Jac at Tinned Tomates with guest hosts deciding on a different theme.

Now I love pesto but making it at home can be a costly affair, especially when you can often find jars of it on offer in supermarkets for about a £1. Thankfully I had just enough pine nuts left from a previous recipe to make some pesto. I resisted the temptation to scoff the pine nuts because they really are a luxury and deserve something special to be made with them. The other main ingredient I would need for my pesto would be Parmesan or some other Italian hard cheese. I've been steadily working my way through a sizeable chunk of Parmesan since I found a piece of it reduced from £10.19 to £3.

While I could have easily eaten a trough of pesto on its own I felt it needed to be paired with something. I served the pesto with some casereccie pasta simply because I was swayed by the packaging saying it was perfect with pesto (and the fact it was on offer at 50p for 500g). Routing through my freezer I came across some salmon fillets; thus completing my search for a perfect Saturday night meal.

The salmon fillets were simply pan fried until cooked through. The pasta was cooked as per the instructions and I allowed 300g for 4 servings. When mixing the pesto with the pasta I used a little bit of the cooking water from the pasta to thin out the pesto. Remember you can always add extra liquid but you don't want a watery mess!

The proportions I have given for the pesto ingredients give quite a strong Parmesan taste with the mint flavour coming through afterwards. If you want a less cheesy hit then obviously reduce the amount of Parmesan you put in. As the pesto is heated through rather than cooked I use extra virgin olive oil as I think it gives a better taste when used in a more raw state. If you don't have any just use ordinary olive oil.

Serves 4

Equipment – Food processor with a sharp blade or hand blender


2oz (60g) Grated Parmesan
2oz (60g) Pine nuts
3 tbsp (45ml) Mint leaves
1 Garlic Clove
4 tbsp (60ml) Extra Virgin olive oil


1. Put the Parmesan, pine nuts, mint and garlic into the bowl of the food processor or blender. Blitz until the pine nuts have been crushed.
2. Add the olive oil gradually, giving a quick blitz with each addition until it has all been added.
3. With a spoon stir the mixture to ensure all the ingredients are blended together.
4. Use as required as a pasta sauce, on bruschetta or as an additional flavouring on pizzas or in salads.

Pesto keeps well for a couple of days in the fridge if stored in a jar with a tight lid. Just give it a stir before using as often the oil will separate. Alternatively it can be frozen in ice cube trays.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like an interesting flavour combination and I'm going to have to give it a go one day. Thanks for the tip about freezing pesto in ice cube trays, it's a great idea. Thanks also for entering this into Pasta Please.


I appreciate your comments. If you have any tips, tricks or tweaks please pass them on!