Homemade Seedy, Nutty, Fruity Granola

12:33

I love granola. It is so simple to make and satisfying to eat. One of my favourite ways to eat it is an adaption from a coffee shop out here in Ferrara; layers of thick yoghurt, chopped up fruit, handfuls of granola, fruit compote and a generous drizzle of maple syrup all displayed in a glass so that you can see all of the different elements. 

Granola is great because you can chuck in lots of really healthy things such as flax seeds that aren't very tasty on their own, but once combined with chunks of oats, honey, nuts and dried fruit, you can't even tell that they are there.






























Another brilliant thing about granola, is that you can vary the basic recipe. Keep the oats, bran, honey and oil base and then swap in and out the nuts, seeds and fruit. I like to change up and adapt Leon's 'Leon Granola' recipe.


Ingredients:

150g honey
50ml seed oil
250g oats
100g oat bran
100g hazelnuts/pistachios (toasted in the oven on a baking sheet for 10 minutes and then roughly chopped)
150g sunflower seeds (toasted in the oven on a baking sheet for 10 minutes)
100g raisins/dried cranberries

Method:

- Preheat the oven to 180 C
- Melt the honey and oil together in a pan over a low heat or in the microwave
- Line a baking tray with baking parchment then weigh out, toast and chop accordingly your chosen ingredients and scatter into a large baking tray
- Add the oil and honey mixture to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly
- Put the tray of granola in the oven and turn over every 5 minutes for about 20 - 25 minutes until golden and toasted







Homemade Pesto

12:10

As an Italian graduate I definitely should have made the connection a little sooner, but it wasn't until recently that I realised that the word pesto comes from the Italian verb pestare which means 'to crush', 'to bash' etc., which is exactly what happens to the ingredients when making pesto.




Pesto is one of my favourite summer weekend pasta sauces. Handfuls of homegrown basil, toasted pine nuts, lashings of good olive oil, fragrant garlic grown nearby in Voghiera and a generous  amount of parmesan or grana all chucked into my grandmother's pestle and mortar (I hadn't even made the connection between pesto, pestare and pestle!)

It is so simple to make; adding all the ingredients one at a time and satisfyingly bashing them down to a green, chunky paste. I like to add my pesto to spaghetti as it is a house pasta favourite but I also love it added to the Ligurian Trofie, gnocchi or spread over bruschetta. 

A pestle and mortar is the traditional way to make pesto and leaves the mix a lot chunkier, but you can just as successfully make it using a hand blender which makes a smoother but just as tasty sauce. Blenders are especially good for making pesto if you have to make a lot of it.

I generally stick to a more traditional recipe using pine nuts, basil and parmesan, but there are so many delicious variations that you can try out just switching the nuts or green elements from the recipe but keeping the quantities the same. For example a favourite of mine is using peppery rocket instead of basil, especially good if making pesto in the winter when basil is harder to come by. 

Ingredients:
(Serves two very generously)

- half a clove of garlic
- a pinch of coarse seasalt (I like to use Maldon)
- a handful of pine nuts
- two large handfuls of basil leaves, stalks removed
- a very large glug of extra virgin olive oil 
- a large handful of grated parmesan 
- a twist of freshly ground pepper 

Method:

- roughly chop the garlic then add it to the mortar with a pinch of salt to help grind it down to a paste with the pestle

- lightly toast the pine nuts being careful not to burn them. Add them to the garlic and bash to a paste

- add the basil leaves to the pine nut and garlic paste a few at a time and continue bashing until you reach a paste consistency once more

- add a generous amount of olive oil and mix in the grated cheese and grind some pepper over. Don't use the pestle at this point

- add to freshly cooked pasta and mix thoroughly or spread over toasted bruschetta. Yum