Basil and Macadamia Nut Pesto

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I feel like getting back to basics. I’m officially on holidays from my food editor job, and the past weeks have seen all manner of festive dishes cooked, tested and prepared for the magazine. I feel I’ve already cooked my way through Christmas fare and now I just crave some simple food that requires no recipe, no testing, no oven!

I can think of no better condiment to make in summer than basil pesto. What makes this pesto truly special is replacing the traditional pine nuts with macadamia nuts. The creamy consistency of macadamia nuts is just what the sweet perfumed basil requires. It’s a match made in heaven. 

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My son – and I must say I’m absolutely ecstatic about this – discovered he likes to eat my pesto with crackers. He actually polished off the entire bowl the other day and instead of lecturing him on how greedy that was, I was congratulating him on finally discovering the wonders of freshly made pesto. One child down, one to go.

 

Basil and macadamia nut pesto 

Ingredients 

1 1/2 cups picked and washed basil leaves

80g (1/2 cup) raw macadamia nuts

1 small clove garlic, chopped

1 small lemon, juiced

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup grated parmesan

Sea salt

Black pepper

 

Place all the ingredients for the pesto in a food processor, blitz till nuts are a chunky consistency and basil is well combined. Check seasoning and adjust with extra salt, pepper or lemon juice.

TIP – washing the basil enlivens the vibrant green colour and gives you a bright green finish to the pesto. Pesto stores in the fridge for several days.

 

 

 

 

 

Barbecued Lemon Myrtle Lamb Skewers

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It’s almost considered criminal to live in Australia and not cook regularly on a barbecue. It’s part of our heritage; part of our life style. When the weather warms up, we get out side and cook. It’s a fabulous thing.

Any occasion can warrant the excuse for a barbecue. Kids birthday – yep barbecue…Get together with friends, time for a barbecue…It’s too hot to cook in the house, crank up the barbecue…

There were a number of years there were I didn’t own a barbecue (shock horror). I had to get my fix of barbecued foods at other peoples houses. This was so un Australian of me. Then, I was given a barbecue as a gift. It was no Kmart job either. It was one of those small yet stylish type barbecues that runs on charcoal, or gas, or both. The gas element is great for when you’re in a hurry, and the slower method of cooking with the charcoal delivers a flavour that just can’t be matched on any indoor stove. I feel complete.

But let me tell you about these tasty lamb skewers. They have become my favourite.

You’ll need some preserved lemons.

Preserved lemon and lamb go together like presents and Christmas. The other special ingredient I’ve used in the marinade is Lemon Myrtle. Have you heard of it? It’s a native Australian bush herb. It’s fairly pungent, yet delicate in it’s lemon scented flavouring, which also highlights hints of lime.

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Truth be known, this lamb was only marinated for 3 hours. It most certainly can be marinated over night, and if I wasn’t trying to feed my husband’s work friends, who conveniently popped in that day, as well as get a shot of the lamb while the light was still good, I would of left the lamb to marinate longer.

I often serve lamb skewers with yoghurt sauce. On this occasion I snipped fresh mint from the garden, roughly chopped it, grated a cucumber and squeezed the excess water from it,  and added it to the yoghurt with extra virgin olive oil, black pepper and sea salt.

 

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Lemon myrtle lamb skewers

Ingredients  

800g free range lamb shoulder (ask your butcher for a lean piece)

1 preserved lemon

2 tsp ground lemon myrtle

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 cup fresh oregano

1 tbsp rice bran or olive oil

Sea salt

Cracked black pepper

12 bamboo skewers

 

Dice the lamb into 3cm pieces. Remove the pith of the preserved lemon and discard the pulp, keeping only the rind. Roughly dice the rind and place in a food processor with lemon myrtle, garlic, oregano and oil, blitz till well combined. Pour over the lamb, gently massage it into the meat, and set aside to marinate in the fridge for 4 – 24 hours.

Soak 12 skewers in cold water for 15 minutes (this helps stop the wood from burning).

Pre heat a charcoal barbecue. Skewer the lamb evenly between the bamboo skewers. Season both sides with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Cook the lamb over a medium heat, for 8-10 minutes, turn regularly.

Set the lamb aside to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve lamb skewers with minted yoghurt and your favourite salads.