Parsley or Basil Pesto

Pesto is the tradition sauce of Liguria, an area set in the armpit of Italy where wild herbs grow in profusion. Basil is the traditional choice but don’t be limited by this. I make pesto with parsley or a mixture of parsley and rocket.
Mature peccorino can replace Parmesan and for a change I sometimes use walnuts, a similarly oily nut to pine kernels.

55g 2oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons pine kernels
2 plump cloves garlic
1 large bunch flat leaf parsley or basil
Sea salt and freshly ground black
¼ pint olive oil

Put all the ingredients but the oil into the bowl of a food processor and whiz until you have a smoothish paste. With the motor running add the oil in a thinish stream. Add extra oil to thin the pesto for use with pasta or rice, its wonderful with mashed potato.


2 ripe avocados
lemon juice to taste
1 small mild onion, chopped
1 large ripe tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
salt and pepper
Tabasco to taste

Mash or dice the avocado flesh, adding about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Add the onion and tomato seasoning with salt, pepper and Tabasco to taste.


125g 4oz smoked cod’s roe, skinned
2 slices of day – old white bread, crusts removed
juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, crushed (optional)
scant 150ml¼ pint olive oil
salt and pepper
a sprig of flat – leaf parsley, to garnish
hot pita bread, to serve

Place the roe and the bread in a food processor, with the lemon juice and garlic (if using). Whiz until you have a puree. With the motor running, add the oil in a thin stream. If necessary, thin the Taramasalata with some cold water.
Season with salt if needed and pepper to taste. Put into a small dish garnish with the sprig of parsley and serve with hot pita bread.


225g chickpeas soaked overnight or a tin of chickpeas
2 cloves garlic
Grated zest and juice of a lemon
2 Tablespoons of tahini
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil

Boil the chickpeas in plenty of unsalted water until tender. Drain reserving a little of the liquor.
Place the chickpeas, garlic, lemon zest, tahini and juice and some seasoning in the goblet of a blender. Whiz to a puree and then add a handful of parsley leaves. Continue to whiz adding about ¼ pint olive oil.
Taste and re-season adding a dash of Tabasco and extra lemon or oil as necessary.
Serve on crostini.