Greek pesto is made with feta, not parmesan!
The last thing I managed to squeeze into my car returning from my holidays was my pot of basil. I simply couldn’t bear the thought of it remaining alone on the island, unloved and without water. I placed it next to me, in the co-driver’s seat, freshly watered and alive with its vibrant green leaves and lovely aroma. On the long trip home, however, knowing that this is the end for basil plants, all I could think of was how many jars of pesto I’d be able to make…
Italians make pesto from basil leaves, parmesan, garlic, pine nuts and olive oil. It is an easy pasta paste and while you’re boiling your pasta, you can easily zap all these ingredients in a blender and enjoy a delicious meal in 10 minutes, adding freshly ground pepper to taste.
Greek chef Christophoros Peskias recommends another greek fellow chef’s (Nena Ismirnoglou’s) recipe online, which replaces parmesan with feta, uses fresh oregano leaves instead of the basil and almonds in place of pine nuts.
Returning home after a long working summer , I searched in my empty cupboards for the ingredients and found neither almonds, nor pine nuts so I made my pesto with feta and garlic, olive oil and lots of basil leaves, all handy and fresh.
My friend Marion suggested I use feta from Cefallonia, (as a true woman of Cefallonia), but feta from Tripoli is also good, since it’s quite peppery.
However, if you have a milder feta in your fridge, not very salty nor spicy, you’ll need to add pepper, and possibly salt, to the mixture.
Pasta with feta pesto is an easy delicious dish, fast and fresh and ,without slaving all day in the kitchen, it leaves you more time to enjoy the joys of summer that is coming to an end…
Feta Pesto with Basil and Garlic
- A packet of penne, spaghetti, farfalle or linguini.
- 2 cups of feta roughly crushed
- 2 handfuls of basil, wide-leafed , washed and dried very well (in a tea towel)
- almost 1 cup of extra virgin greek olive oil
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- Salt and pepper
Place the basil leaves with the garlic cloves in the blender and blend for about 1 minute on high speed adding half the oil, a little at a time, until all ingredients are well mixed together.
Add half of the feta and beat a little on a low speed.
Take the mixture out of the blender and stir in the rest of the grated feta and olive oil.
Boil your pasta in well salted water.
Drain the pasta and place back in the pot (reserving 1 cup of the water they boiled in)
Immediately, add the feta pesto to the drained pasta and stir well (if it’s necessary, add 1-2 spoonfuls of the cooking liquid so the pasta sauce becomes creamier).
Serve at once adding freshly ground pepper if desired.