Making Pesto at home with Parmigiano Reggiano

At the moment, during lock down, my daily happiness depends on what I find in the fridge! Parmigiano Reggiano is the one luxury staple we are always stocked up on … this special Italian hard cheese can really make or break the simplest meals … whether it’s as a last-minute accompaniment to spaghetti or a yummy topping for cheese on toast.

Parmigiano Reggiano

A few years ago, I visited Parmigiano Reggiano’s area of origin in Northern Italy, where it is exclusively produced in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and Bologna to the left of the river Reno, and Mantua to the right of the river Po. As a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product, Parmigiano Reggiano is a healthy choice, as it is all-natural, made with only 3 ingredients, and every wheel of cheese is individually quality checked before it can be sold. Made with cow’s milk and usually aged for 12 – 36 months, it is a granular cheese with a salty umami taste that can add flavour to an array of dishes.

Parmigiano Reggiano

Pesto is one of my favourite recipes with Parmigiano Reggiano. For me, it brings back strong memories of sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen in Provence, collecting pine kernels from the nearby forest and using an old pestle and mortal to make delicious fresh pesto. We’d sometimes take a day trip over the border into Italy, to visit their vibrant markets and buy huge chunks of Parmigiano Reggiano.

Parmigiano Reggiano

At the moment it’s not as easy as usual to get all the ingredients you need, and pine nuts are often not available in local shops, so I’ve come up with three pesto recipes to help you make the most of your store cupboard ingredients, all showcasing Parmigiano Reggiano.

Parmigiana Reggiano

Classic Pesto

100g basil, leaves picked

75g toasted pine nuts

100g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

100ml olive oil

Parmigiana Reggiano

Parsley & Hazelnut

80g flat leaf parsley, leaves picked

100g toasted hazelnut

100g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

zest and juice of 1 lemon

100ml olive oil

Parmigiana Reggiano

Sun-dried Tomato & Walnut

150g sun-dried tomatoes in oil (weight incl. oil)

100g walnuts

100g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

1 clove of garlic

Additional olive oil if needed, but mostly use the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes

Parmigiano Reggiano

Method

Put all ingredients into the food processor, apart from olive oil and whizz up into a paste. Once mixed gradually add the olive oil while the mixer is still on. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Alternatively you can use a pestle and mortar to break down the ingredients and create a paste, starting with the dry ingredients and finishing with the oil.

Parmigiana Reggiano

Pesto can be used in so many recipes, as a pasta sauce, a salad dressing or a smart canapé spread. I like to make a big batch, and freeze portions in an ice-tray for later use.

You can buy Parmigiano Reggiano from all major supermarkets in the UK. Follow them on instagram @Parmigianoreggianouk and on Twitter @Parmesanuk.

This is a collaboration with Parmigiano Reggiano, visit their website here for more information.

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