This ten-minute vegan, low-carb, inexpensive and gluten-free Sicilian (or Trapanese) pesto courgetti is no doubt the easiest healthiest thing you’ll make this week. Traditionally Trapanese pesto is made using a mortar and pestle, the crushing action releasing more flavour from the ingredients than is possible to get using a blender or food processor, but….
- My mortar and pestle is tiny
- Ain’t nobody got time for that
So blender pesto it is! I hate hate hate my terrible blender very much. I sent hubby to pick one up when we had moved into our house and he brought me back a horrifically expensive one with a disco-like light show and more buttons than a remote. That overheated once when it was blending tomatoes, I kid you not. I’ve already sent it back for repair a million times, and it took ages to be repaired and the repair company told me not to use the “crush ice” option on it (I hadn’t). And also to only blend really soft things. So, useless, in a nutshell, and going into the rubbish as soon as the warranty runs out and it needs to be “fixed” again.
I seriously long for my wet and dry grinder from India. I heart grinders so much. SO great for making your own flours and nut butters. Or even my mini food processor that I loved, the Kitchen Aid one, that was so awesome until the darn springs on the lid buttons broke and all the replacement parts were out of stock. It was the perfect size for hummus and could cope with just about any ingredient. The blender is fine for this pesto but a processor would be better if you have one, as you want everything chopped really small to form a grainy textured paste, not squished into flavoured tomato juice like an overzealous blender will do. Remember, if using a blender, to pulse. Say no to flavoured tomato juice, just no.
I don’t know about everywhere else, but in Madrid it’s a bit of a pain to get fresh basil. They have those tiny twenty-gram packets in the supermarket salad section, that cost a buck fifty. So that means that in order to make fresh Genovese pesto you need to cough up a lot for the basil. Some independent fruit and vegetable shops have big cheap bunches of basil and coriander, but you have to ask the shop assistants for them- they’re in the backroom for some reason, not out on the shop-floor? Half of the time the assistants will look at you in a kind of suspicious puzzlement, like you just asked them for crack vegetables. The rest of the time they know you are part of the secret inner herb circle, and just go get them.
Either way, whether you find reasonably priced basil or not, this pesto won’t break the bank as you only need 40 grams of it for this sauce. Pricey pine-nuts aren’t needed either, substituted here with toasted almonds.
- 40 g Fresh basil
- 60-100 g Almonds, skinned
- 2 Garlic cloves
- 700 g Ripe tomatoes - about 6 large ones, seeded and roughly chopped
- 75 ml Olive oil
- 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon Chilli flakes, optional
- ¾ tsp Salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3-4 Medium courgettes
- Blend the almonds or process them until they are the size of breadcrumbs.
- Toast the almond crumbs in a non-stick pan over a medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, shaking the pan until they are golden. Tip out of the pan onto a plate to cool (they will overcook if you leave them in the hot pan).
- Crush the garlic cloves, and add with the tomatoes and olive oil, anf the chilli flakes if using, to the blender or food processor, and pulse until a similar texture to the almonds. So fairly smooth but still a little chunky, with texture.
- Mix in the almonds, salt and pepper, and pulse once or twice to mix.
- Spiralize your courgetti and either quickly pan fry for one or two minutes to soften or leave as is, mix with the pesto, and serve.
I've seen that you can now buy pre-spiralized courgetti and squash zoodles in the supermarkets, but I've had a spiralizer for years and highly recommend investing in one. I use mine for courgetti, carrot noodle salads, asian cucumber noodle salad, curly oven-baked potato fries, to mandolin potatoes and beets etc. I've been using the Paderno World Cuisine 4-blade spiralizer for years as it doesn't slide around on the worktop, has four blades, and folds up neatly to take up less space in the cupboard.