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.

São Lourenço do Barrocal

São Lourenço do Barrocal is a hotel that had been on my wishlist for years, an idyllic escape in the Portuguese Alentejo region. Just a few hours drive from Lisbon, this hotel works perfectly as a second stop after a few days enjoying the excitement of the capital city.

São Lourenço do Barrocal

The hotel has a special history… the atmospheric property has been in the same family for over 200 years and feels very much in tune with its beautiful surroundings. The hotel has a 780-hectare estate that includes olive groves and vineyards (you can taste the olive oil and wine on site), and also boasts an orchard and wall garden.

São Lourenço do Barrocal

A main building hosts evening sundowners and cakes, and is also home to a charming bar for all your refreshment needs. The reception here are on-call to help make your stay at São Lourenço do Barrocal as memorable as possible. Guests have so many options to fill their daily itinerary with… from horse riding, to hot air balloon rides over the region.

The hotel prides itself on being incredibly family-friendly with activities to suit all age groups. But for those needing some alone time, the Susanne Kaufmann spa is the perfect refuge.

São Lourenço do BarrocalSão Lourenço do Barrocal

There are 40 rooms including courtyard, winery and farm rooms, and cottages for accommodating families. The rooms are all decorated in a similar style – laid back and luxurious. The courtyard room we called home was spacious and comfortable, with a generous living area and outdoor terrace.

The bathroom felt lavish with underfloor heating and dual sinks, bath and separate power shower, and best of all… mini Susanne Kaufmann toiletries.

Our room felt like a suite and it was a lovely oasis to come back to at the end of the day.

São Lourenço do BarrocalSão Lourenço do Barrocal

The hotel restaurant, Alentejo, is a homely dining room for feasting on the finest local produce. In the morning, a huge buffet offered fruit and cold meats, pastries and cereals. A cooked menu offers all the hot dishes you might desire, and I was impressed by the thoughtful service, particularly when the waiter remembered my coffee order on the second morning.

I looked forward to dinner at Alentejo both days. The menu was full of enticing farm to table recipes and I particularly loved the slow cooked meats, which were incredibly flavoursome and delicious when paired with the São Lourenço do Barrocal wine.

São Lourenço do BarrocalSão Lourenço do Barrocal

In the long warm days we lazed by the pool, with the scent of citrus fruit in the air. On our second day we were treated to a picnic in the grounds, prepared specially for us by the hotel. It was wonderfully relaxing to be able to spend all our time here, there is so much to see and do on site that I didn’t get my usual itch to explore further afield.

São Lourenço do BarrocalSão Lourenço do Barrocal

For a sunny and calm European getaway I would highly recommend São Lourenço do Barrocal. The design-led but traditional interiors made this hotel a pleasure to spend time in, and the authentic friendly service ensured every detail of our trip was perfect. Waking up to the birdsong and falling asleep under a sky full of stars are two memories I will always remember from our short stay at this magical hotel.

More information and book a stay at São Lourenço do Barrocal here.

I was a guest of the hotel.

Clues to the Neighbourhood at Hotel Indigo, Stratford

Whether I travel for a day trip or a two-week holiday, I always like to truly discover the best of a destination… from speciality coffee shops and wine bars, to unique local designers and the finest foodie establishments. So when I heard about Hotel Indigo’s ‘Clues to the Neighbourhood’ experience in Stratford-upon-Avon, I was immediately interested.

Clues to the Neighbourhood

This special campaign aims to introduce guests to the most individual and interesting parts of the destination that the hotel calls home. The concept kicked off at the Hotel Indigo Berlin and continues in Stratford-upon-Avon and Brussels. In the Hotel Indigo Stratford-upon-Avon library, you will find 20 clues – a collection of beautiful items and artefacts – each a clue to a special place, venue or excursion in the town. The clues have been chosen by artists, musicians and historians who all have a connection to Stratford-upon-Avon.

Clues to the Neighbourhood

The clues lead you to a range of itinerary options, from local perfume makers to museum exhibitions, cute historic pubs to talented hairdressers. There are a few clues that relate to Shakespeare, but the collection of 20 showcases a great deal of other ideas too. There is something to suit guests of all ages and interests, and the hotel staff are trained to help with any bookings or tickets. Every clue tells a story worth discovering.

Clues to the NeighbourhoodClues to the Neighbourhood

During the launch day we were all treated to experiences from one of the clues – a trip to the Butterfly Farm, a gin tasting at Shakespeare Gin Company or a Perfume Workshop with expert Rebecca Tracey. I headed to Rebecca Tracey’s studio for a lesson in essential oils. After smelling 16 different oils and hearing about all the qualities and properties of each, we were encouraged to mix our favourite top, middle and base notes to blend our own bespoke oil. It was a brilliant few hours picking up some great perfume tips.

Hotel Indigo

Before heading back to London, we were treated to a feast at the Hotel Indigo Stratford-upon-Avon’s celebrated restaurant, The Woodsman. This cosy eatery is known for its menu of wholesome recipes, in particular its deer dishes. The whole group sat round a grand table and tasted an array of wonderful local delicacies. The main course was my favourite; platters of perfectly cooked Venison Wellington, roast roe deer, the creamiest mashed potato and flavoursome vegetables. The meal concluded with freshly made, piping hot, strawberries and cream beignets.

Clues to the Neighbourhood

After 10 years of writing about and visiting hotels I’ve never witnessed a destination experience quite so bespoke and exciting as ‘Clues to the Neighbourhood’. I just hope this inspired idea will be on offer at more of the Indigo hotels in the future.

‘Clues to the Neighbourhood’ continues at Hotel Indigo Stratford-upon-Avon for the next three months. Book here to stay and experience the best of the city.

This is a sponsored article in collaboration with Hotel Indigo, see more from the video here.