Friday 12 November 2010

Sacla The Pesto Pioneers - new ways with pesto

On their website, Sacla describe themselves as "those irresistibly Italian food people". They take their sauces very seriously, making them all in Italy, which is presumably why they taste so delicious and authentic. I've tasted many pasta sauces over the years but Sacla are the ones that always make me think I'm eating something genuinely Italian. The flavours are so rich and intense that a little goes a long way and just a couple of spoonfuls stirred through cooked pasta and topped with parmesan give you an instant but delicious and gratifying meal.

Sacla first introduced me to pesto a few years ago. I was put off by the colour and wasn't entirely sure I'd like a sauce based on basil so I avoided it, but I reluctantly tried some at a sampling event and was pleasantly surprised. So much so that these days, we always have a jar of green pesto on the go in the fridge. Sacla describe their pesto as "a little bit of Italian cooking magic" and proudly explain, "We think the best pesto should coat every piece of pasta, making it drip with colour and flavour. It's also fantastic with meat, fish and vegetables. We should know, we've been the country's numero uno pesto for the past twenty years."

Pasta with pesto is delicious but it can be used in so many other ways. It is the ultimate magical ingredient for using up leftovers and you can add a spoonful to a large number of dishes to add some extra depth of flavour. Mashed potato is delicious and visually pleasing with pesto swirled through (think green raspberry ripple !). It makes a fabulous pizza base in place of the usual tomato puree. I've also tried it in crab cakes, breaded vegetable croquettes and risotto. Having looked on the Facebook page, I now really want to try it smeared over roast chicken (see above) because that sounds and looks absolutely divine too. Everyone I speak to has a different way of using pesto and most of them don't even involve pasta !

Sacla sent me samples of three of their pesto varieties, Classic Basil and two new contenders Wild Garlic and Fiery Chilli. As I mentioned above, pesto is already a highly versatile ingredient so by adding new flavours, Sacla are just making it even easier to liven up everyday dishes with a quick spoonful or two.

First up was the Classic Basil Pesto which is a store cupboard staple in our house. Sacla explain, "Close your eyes and conjure up the aroma of freshly picked basil, the rich release of crushed pine kernels and a hit of newly grated Grana Padano cheese. These are the signature notes of our classic green pesto. Stir it through a steaming plate of pasta and shower with parmesan. It's equally welcome when it's spooned over new potatoes, in place of butter, or generously stuffed under the skin of a chicken breast before roasting." I decided to try a new twist and added a spoonful to a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise and spread it beneath a layer of ham and cheddar in a crusty warm baguette - heaven !
I was keen to discover the New Wild Garlic Pesto. Sacla say : "Our new Wild Garlic Pesto is truly irresistible. The combination of gorgeous Wild Garlic and fragrant Basil will tantalise your taste buds. For a deliciously simple supper, just stir through your favourite cooked pasta and shower with Parmesan. Be inspired - spread a generous spoonful onto a sliced ciabatta and bake. For the ultimate comfort creation swirl through creamy mashed potato and serve with love. " Ha ! That was my idea with the Classic Basil Pesto ! As well as spooning it over pasta, I again wanted to get inventive so I tried topping some salmon fillets with it and also used it to make some gorgeous parmesan breadcrumb coated chicken kievs. Although I should probably replace Kiev by a more Italian-sounding name ! All absolutely delicious.

Last on my testing list was the Fiery Chilli Pesto. Sacla's description is : "There's a real kick in every spoonful of our fiery chilli Pesto. Just stir through your favourite cooked pasta and serve with a glass of robust red. Be inspired - brush generously on to skewers of chicken, wrap in pancetta and simply grill." I have just one word of warning - use sparingly ! It really is fiery so if you don't want your mouth to be on fire, go easy when you stir it in ! I actually found this one too fiery on its own with pasta but a spoonful added to spaghetti bolognese adds a delicious kick. If you adhere to the "the hotter the better" mentality, you'll love it !

Whether or not you've already tried pesto, you really should give it a go in a new way. There are a whole host of recipes on the Sacla website as well as on their Facebook page so get inventive. As they say at Sacla, Buon appetito ! Feel free to tell me about your ways of using pesto in the comments box and I'll try them out.

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £1.99

Other reviews you may be interested in :

1 comment:

  1. I like this post because it gives me some new ideas for using pesto. I hate it when i use pesto but not the whole jar, so i need ideas for using the rest of it, i don't like to waste things. Thank you.


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