I mean who could say no to creamy homemade pesto made from fragrant roasted hazelnuts? The robust flavor of the roasted hazelnuts gets a nice brightness from the lemon zest and lemon juice, and when whirled together with a generous glug of olive oil and a large handful of flat-leaf parsley and peppery arugula, plus a little parmesan, not to mention garlic, the pesto comes together as a well-rounded sauce that is brimming with flavor and texture. The aroma of the roasted hazelnuts alone is amazing!
I love pesto, in all its forms. So tasty, so versatile and so easy to make at home. It’s amazing. Having pesto on hand is perfect for throwing together a quick meal. It keeps for 3-4 days in the fridge, some say longer as long as it has a thin layer of olive oil on top – I usually make sure I have enough left to throw in the freezer for the next time and other times I just go on a pesto binge and devour it.
Perfect served on a tomato-mozzarella sandwich, as a topping for crostini, tossed together with giant white beans or boiled new potatoes, and of course as sauce for pasta. And I’m willing to bet it tastes great as a pesto crust for chicken or a nice firm white fish. I’ll definitely have to try the latter!
If you are going to make this pesto as a sauce for pasta, reserve about 1/2 a cup (125 ml) of the pasta’s cooking liquid so you can add a little bit at a time to the pasta when you toss it with the pesto. This will help the pesto loosen up a bit and help create more of a sauce-like consistency.
Yields about 1 1/2 cups
1 cup hazelnuts, lightly roasted and skinned (130 g)
1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, stemmed
handful arugula leaves (35 g)
1 large clove of garlic, roughly chopped
zest and juice of 1 organic lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup grated parmesan (30 g)
enough olive oil to achieve proper consistency, about 1/2 cup or more
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350° F / 180°C.
2. On a baking sheet toast hazelnuts in one layer in middle of oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden and skins are blistered. Wrap the hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel and vigorously rub the towel around them to remove the loose skins (it’s fine if some skins don’t come off). Set aside to cool.
3. Put all the ingredients for the pesto in a food processor and blend until it becomes a smooth-ish paste. The pesto should still have a good amount of texture from the hazelnuts.
4. If the mixture is too sturdy, add more olive oil, one tablespoon at a time, pulsing briefly after each addition until the pesto reaches the desired consistency.