About Parsley and Hand Made Pesto

Herbs are such a wealth in the kitchen. I love using them plentiful. Being a dedicated herb lover (with a very own organic garden here in Dubai at Madinat Jumeirah, we do even composting) I recently showed in one of my cooking classes a hand made parsley pesto which is versatile for many dishes and food preparations. It turns out so much better with mortar, pestle and muscle power than the soft and smooth puree you get when you make it in a blender. The original would be with basil though, but made with parsley it is equally delicious and worth trying.
And so beneficial!
Parsley is providing a generous portion of vitamin C, A and K, and chlorophyll (helping your body to absorb oxygen). It is good for your bones, strengthens the immune system, helps you getting radiant skin, is detoxing in general and supports kidney function. So many reasons to eat parsley as often as possible. Cheers to Arabic food having invented parsley packed and lovely Tabouleh!

So now back to the kitchen: We used a stone mortar and pestle, in the best spirit of the word “pesto” rooting from “pestare”….! This makes in my opinion the best pesto ever. It is worth all the effort.

A pesto can be used as bread dip (get one easy bread recipe here),  with grilled vegetables, oven potatoes, or pasta…
In this class we prepared  Purple Potato Vegetable Kebabs with Parsley Pesto, they were served along with Green Pea Gazpacho (see recipe here) and made a great summer starter.

4 Portions
What to Buy
40 g parmesan cheese, grated
15 g pine nuts, toasted
1 organic lemon for a little bit of lemon skin, grated
1 small chili (optional)
½ garlic clove, peeled
½ bunch parsley
8 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 bamboo skewers
2 baby capsicum
4 cherry tomatoes
100 g purple potatoes (you can also use white potatoes or sweet potatoes instead)
½ zucchini
2 tablespoons olive oil

How to Make It
Cut the potatoes and the zucchini into 2×2 cm and steam them for around 2 minutes al dente. Also steam the capsicum for 2 minutes (and cut them only if they are too big). Stick all vegetables on the skewers. For the pesto chop the parsley coarsely and, if you like it hot, a little bit of chili or some more…. Combine the ingredients for the pesto in a mortar and pestle starting to mash with very little salt (because parmesan is salty too) the garlic, lemon skin and chili. Then constantly sprinkle in small portions of pine nuts, parmesan and parsley, and top each helping with a drizzle of the olive oil. Continue until all ingredients are used up and the pesto looks shiny, creamy, but with small bits and pieces in it. Check seasoning and add some coarsely ground black pepper, and salt if necessary.
Braise the skewers in olive oil in a non stick pan for 2 minutes on all sides and serve them warm with the room temperature pesto on top. Truly convincing flavors!

Chef Gabi’s TIP:
This dish is great for MISE EN PLACE – a magic word in the restaurant kitchen and so is at home if you expect guests. Pesto can keep in the fridge for some days.  However: I am not a fan of keeping it for more than 24 hours as its flavor is best when it is fresh. I always serve it at room temperature for optimum flavor, so don’t forget to take it out of the fridge on time.
The skewers can be prepared a couple of hours in advance and you are ready to serve your guests without standing in the kitchen for long time. You just need to do the pan frying part à la minute, that’s all.
This recipe works with many vegetables, whatever is available – spring onions, fennel, potatoes, snow peas, eggplants, mushrooms…have fun playing with it!

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