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Rustic Pesto with Beans and Zucchini Salad


There is so much to learn from Tamsin of Tamsin’s Table, aside from her delicious recipes !  Tamsin has amassed an incredible wealth of knowledge about growing her own fresh produce, and is so generous in sharing this wisdom. As a very inexperienced veggie-grower, I am all ears.  Today, I’ve learnt that ‘Dragon’s Tongue Climbing’ beans are the most tender and tasty, that it’s worth paying attention to the variety of basil you plant this summer (‘Genovese’ makes the best pesto, apparently) and that homegrown garlic can be ‘Glamour’-ous, not to mention delicious!  Who knew?!  Thanks Tamsin!

18th November, 2014
Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin's Table
Tuesday 18th November 2014

This delicious dish was one of the stand out favourites from our Sunday Table lunches last summer. It is quick to make and there is absolutely nothing tricky about the technique, but as with so many simple dishes it is all about the quality and freshness of the ingredients, in particular, the garlic.

One of my secret ambitions is to start a home grown garlic craze – not only is it one of the easiest and most space efficient things to be self sufficient in (a neighbour of mine harvested more than 100 heads from a single tractor tyre bed this year) but I believe that no other ingredient makes as big a contribution to the deliciousness of food. Once you’ve tasted it, you’ll never go back. If you can’t grow your own, go and see Matt and Lentil of Grown & Gathered and see if they will sell you some!

As a crunchy accompaniment to this salad I like to serve it with lavosh crackers (depending on my mood I will make my own, though good quality store bought work just as well) with a marinated goats cheese spread with some edible flowers from the garden.

Ingredients (Serves Four)

For the rustic pesto with beans and zucchini salad

  • 2 small to medium sized Lebanese or Italian zucchini (or other pale skinned variety)

  • A generous handful of young and tender green beans (I use the heirloom variety 'Dragon's Tongue Climbing' – actually this is the only bean I grow these days; none of the other varieties come close to matching it in flavour, tenderness and productivity on our heavy soil. Plant some!)
  • 2 very generous handfuls of basil (Genovese if you have it growing in the garden; this variety makes the best pesto)
  • A large handful of raw almonds, the freshest you can find (they need to still be crunchy)
  • 4 or 5 large peeled cloves of new season garlic (our fave variety for this dish is 'Glamour')
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • A lemon
  • Marinated goats cheese fetta or fresh goat’s milk curd

For the lavosh and goats cheese side

  • A handful of good quality lavosh crackers
  • 150g pack of Meredith Dairy Chevre or similar
  • A few springs of fresh dill
  • Sea salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • One fresh lime
  • Edible flowers such as naturtium, borage or radish flowers


Cut the zucchini into thin matchsticks. Combine with the uncooked beans (no need to cook, or top and tail, if they are super fresh and tender), toss with a little lemon juice and set aside.

Place the basil in a large mortar and pestle along with the almonds, the garlic, sea salt and about half a cup of the olive oil and pound until the almonds are broken up but still in pieces and the basil is crushed rather than pulped. It is important not to reduce the pesto to a traditional paste otherwise you will lose the sweetness that sits at the forefront of this dish. Check for seasoning and set aside.

Mix half the pesto through the zucchini/bean mix and toss. Then add remainder of pest. You may need to add a little more olive oil. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the top, scatter small chunks of marinated goat’s milk fetta and a pinch of sea salt and gently toss through.

I like pair this super green salad with a bit of crunch, mainly with some lavosh and a little chevre cheese spread I whip up.

This is less a recipe than it is a flourish and the kind of thing you can easily adapt to suit your own tastes and garden ingredients. Place the chevre into a medium bowl and add a generous squeeze of the lime juice, a pinch of sea salt, the chopped dill, and a drizzle of olive oil. Combine well with a fork and taste to check the the flavours are in balance – the trick is not to go too heavy on the lime (this spread is best made a few hours before you want to use it so that all the delicious flavours have time to mingle – taste again just before you intend to serve). When ready to use, spread a little on a lavosh biscuit and top with an edible flower.

This is the kind of thing I could eat all day long, and regularly do!

Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin’s Table picking fresh nasturtiums for her salad.  Photo – Eve Wilson.

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