Sunday, 23 January 2011

Poor Man's Pesto

The Sainsbury's Basics Italian Hard Cheese was only introduced around 6 months ago, when the supermarket chain revamped their own-brand cheese product line. I have been meaning to try this out and compare it to the Parmaggio Reggiano and other true Italian hard cheeses that I have become familiar with while being here. I never had the opportunity to do so however, until during the December holidays when I was carefully planning what I should review so that everything flows nicely in sequence, and in keeping with festive occasions, like the cashew nut review for Chinese New Year. Speaking of which, cashew nuts happen to be a cheap substitute for pine nuts that supermarkets and other food manufacturers will use in pesto, since it tastes rather similar. With that in mind, and an open and half-used packet of cashew nuts, we are going to use the Basics cheese to make a poor man's pesto.

Unlike the likes of Parmaggiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano and Grana Padano, all of which are used to make what's commonly known as Parmesan, the Basics Italian Hard Cheese is made using both cow's and buffalo milk. I'm not certain as to why the latter is used, as it is known to be more valuable and hence more expensive than cow's milk. The Wikipedia article on Buffalo Mozzarella notes that buffalo milk yields more dairy product than cow's milk per unit litre, and I would imagine that any production of buffalo milk would immediately go into Mozzarella production, which is pretty high in demand.

In any case, the cheese tastes fairly lighter than the regular Italian hard cheeses, which might make it useful when introducing people to cheese tasting, I guess. Other than its unusual makeup, there is nothing low quality about this product, which might explain why it garnered the Gold Value Q award at the annual Quality Food Awards in 2010. The awards page has also revealed some of the suppliers of Basics products, which merits its own investigation at a later time. For now, it is enough to say that this product is manufactured by Rondanini UK, which I gather is a major player in the UK food industry, and founded by an Italian.

 Begin by finely crushing a clove of garlic and a small handful of cashew nuts, with the back of a heavy spoon on a chopping board or some other appropriate implement. Add these to a small mixing bowl.

Grate about 15 grammes of the Sainsbury's Basics Italian Hard Cheese into the bowl.

 Add one canister of Sainsbury's Basics Dried Mixed Herbs, or less. Pound together and mix well.

 Finally, add as much olive oil as your budget or conscience allows.

I will probably use this for dinner tomorrow, where I can take the time to introduce another Sainsbury's Basics product.

DescriptionPrice per UnitNo. of servingsTrade-up PremiumTrade-up Benefits
Roasted Salted Cashews£1.32200g+£0.39 for 100gMore consistent sizes, whole nuts instead of halves.
Italian Hard Cheese£2.00200g+£0.50Actual proper Italian cheese, stronger taste.

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