PESTO has been a summer staple in my kitchen for many years. The heady aroma of fresh basil and garlic has stimulated the appetites of many who dine at Chez Cooper.
But I have discovered that, while basil is the backbone of the traditional version, you can make pesto with other herbs.
This mint and macadamia version goes beautifully with lamb, of course; the other plus is that, unlike basil, mint grows all year round.
Traditional pesto also contains grated Parmesan cheese, but I've found I don't really need it with the lamb. If you choose to stir this version of pesto through pasta rather than serve it with grilled or roast meat, you may still want to add it.
Like basil pesto, this version will oxidise on the top if stored but the colour change won't affect the flavour. You can slow it down by covering the surface with a little extra olive oil.
Lamb cutlets with mint pesto
INGREDIENTS: 1 large bunch mint 1/2 cup macadamia nuts 2-3 cloves garlic 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil black pepper, to taste 2 tbs freshly grated Parmesan (optional) 8 lamb cutlets or short loin chops
METHOD: Wash the mint and pat dry with a clean tea towel or paper towels. Remove leaves from stems. You need roughly two cups of leaves, packed lightly. Place in a food processor along with the nuts.
Peel the garlic cloves. The amount you use is a matter of personal taste.
Process the ingredients until they are blended to a rough paste, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula if necessary. Drizzle the oil down the chute of the lid in a steady stream with the motor running until the oil emulsifies; the mixture will turn a little milky.
Preheat the barbecue to high. Grill the lamb for about six minutes then turn; grill for a further four minutes or until done to your taste. Lamb should be served slightly pink in the centre. Cover with foil and rest for five minutes.
Top each serve of meat with a dollop of mint pesto and serve immediately.
Store leftover pesto covered in the fridge for up to a week.