IMG_2017Herbs – a painful ingredient for the single cook. They add so much, cost a fair bit, but often end up as guilt-inducing slime in the fridge. I know, I know, they’re SO easy to grow even in a window box but who am I kidding? I have my work cut out keeping the geraniums alive. Flat parsley lasts OK in a Stayfresh bag, as does tarragon. Coriander is a bitch – more of that anon – but basil is the herb I hate to waste the most. I buy it in big bunches in the market. It’s so fragrant and juicy looking. Much nicer than those tasteless ‘living’ pots you can buy. But what to do with the extra after you’ve torn a few leaves of tender basil over a salad? Well here’s a couple of ideas – the first uses the few, the second takes care of the rest.

By the way, the hot peppers come from a jar. Great ingredient to have in the fridge to add flavour and colour. The piquancy from the brine as well as the heat is perfect with this dish. Better than fresh chillis to be honest.

PS I know this is quite similar to a dish I blogged last year, but I hope you don’t mind…


Serves 1

  • 2 flat peaches
  • 1/2 fresh burrata
  • 4 big basil leaves, finely shredded
  • 2 or three hot peppers from a jar, finely shredded
  • A drizzle each of good olive oil, and even better Balsamic if you’ve got it


  1. Really…do I have to write this out? Well, just cut up the peaches, tear up the burrata, scatter over the herbs and peppers and drizzle like a pro.
  2. Eat in the sunshine


ImageThis is really 2 recipes in 1. First you need to make the pistou which is just a French word for pesto. There’s no definitive recipe. The closer you get to the Italian border the more likely you are to see pine nuts and cheese in it which is the way I make it. I only call it pistou for the sake of this recipe, which is based on one Raymond Blanc makes so beautifully in his book Kitchen Secrets (which I believe is currently out of stock but is being reprinted as we speak) . Raymond does his in a blender, making the sauce very smooth and loose. I prefer more of a spoonable version that I can stir through pasta later. You can leave out the nuts and cheese and just use it as a way to preserve the fresh basil with a bright colour. Or you can add anchovy if you want a really big savoury hit. Up to you. Oh, and I don’t use a really expensive olive oil here. The flavours of the herbs obscure it anyway. The blanching is the key though; that’s what keeps the bright green colour and stops it turning that khaki colour. It will happily keep in the fridge for about 6 weeks.

For the veg – really, it’s whatever you’ve got in the fridge. I think tomatoes are fairly essential, but beyond that, it’s really a free-wheeling kind of thing.

Serves 1 (with loads of pistou sauce left over)

For the Soup

  • 250ml chicken stock
  • 1/2 carrot
  • 1/2 courgette
  • A couple of asparagus spears, a bit of fennel, celery..whatever you have really
  • 1 tbsp peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 small ripe tomato, deseeded
  • 1 tbsp pistou sauce
  • salt and pepper

For the Pistou

  • A handful of basil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 50g grated pecorino
  • 40g pine nuts
  • 150ml olive oil


  1. First make the pesto. In a dry pan, toast the pine nuts until they are a golden brown. Set aside.
  2. Add the basil to a pan of boiling water for 15 seconds. Refresh in iced water and drain quickly using kitchen paper.
  3. Put the basil with the garlic in the food processor and set it running. Add the pine nuts.
  4. Next, pour in the olive oil slowly.
  5. Stop the food processor and add the cheese. Pulse to mix it through.
  6. Taste and add salt and pepper if required. Put in a jar and top off with a layer of olive oil each time you use some. Store in the fridge until required.

For the Soup

  1. Cut the carrots, courgettes and deseeded tomato into small cubes – about 3/4 of a cm is fine.
  2. Bring the stock to a simmer in a sauce pan and add the carrots and courgettes. Cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Next add the peas and cook for a minute.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the tomato. Stir through to warm. You want to keep all the bright fresh flavours in this soup.
  5. At the last moment stir through the pesto and serve.