Thomas Allen & Son sent me The Pesto Cookbook in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and from the heart.
Although I’m rather pitiful with houseplants, we’ve had a few times when our herb garden has done so well that we didn’t know what to do with it all. But now I’ve got all kinds of ideas, thanks to The Pesto Cookbook: 116 Recipes for Creative Herb Combinations and Dishes Bursting with Flavor by Olwen Woodier. Her new book (she also wrote The Apple Cookbook) combines herbs, oils, garlic and other ingredients in a wide variety of pestos, pastes and purées, plus an additional 75 recipes to incorporate pestos in dishes both savoury and sweet. Today I’ve got a peek inside and one of Olwen’s recipes we really enjoyed, the Olive, Thyme and Parsley Pesto.
Herb-Scallion Pesto goes with just about anything, Olwen says. Combine it with chickpeas and roasted eggplant and you’ve got a hearty spread that’s delicious on top of crusty slices of artisan bread or wedges of toasted pita.
Peanut-Sesame Pesto uses one of Olwen’s favourite flavour combos. Toss with cold sesame noodles and top with sliced scallions and cucumber.
And bookmark the Chicken Breasts With Pesto, Pears and Parsnips to come back to in September — Olwen says it’s a great dish for the Fall and also delicious with apples swapped in for the pears.
The sweets include Chocolate Scones with Fresh Herb and Yogurt Purée, Coconut Citrus Cookies, Crunchy Rhubarb Compote with Mint-Chocolate Cream and an Avocado-Lime Frozen Yogurt I’m curious to try.
The Olive, Thyme, and Parsley Pesto came together in a snap. We tried it on cucumber slices, but it would also be delicious stirred into a cucumber, tomato and couscous salad. (That’s my photo above — obviously not as mouthwatering as the ones in the book but trust me, it’s scrumptious!)
Olive, Thyme, and Parsley Pesto
Toss this pesto with chickpeas, cannellini beans, or roasted eggplant and serve with grilled chicken thighs for a Mediterranean-flavored dinner. It also makes a good topping for burgers, flat iron steaks, or filet mignons, and I like to spread it on grilled naan or bake it on pizza dough.
About 2 cups
1½ cups pitted Kalamata olives
¾ cup parsley leaves
¼ cup capers, drained and rinsed (if packed in salt)
¼ cup dried tomatoes in oil
3 large cloves garlic
2–4 tablespoons thyme leaves
½ teaspoon hot paprika or freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼–1/3 cup olive oil
Sea salt (optional; olives and capers may be salty)
1 tablespoon honey (optional)
Place all the ingredients in a mini food processor and process until nearly smooth or to desired consistency.
Excerpted from The Pesto Cookbook © by Olwen Woodier. Photographs 2, 3 and 4 by © Lara Ferroni. Cover by Mars Vilaubi. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.