An Abundance of Herbs

If your vege garden has an abundance of flat leaf parsley, and let’s be honest right now mine has not much more than winter herbs and the odd weed or two or four – pesto is the perfect solution. Pesto can be stored in a screw top glass jar in the fridge for 1-2 weeks (seal the top of pesto with olive oil to retain its colour) or freeze in ice cube trays, transferring to a zip lock bag once frozen – perfect for popping straight into a pasta sauce or soup during cooking.

While a huge fan of traditional basil pesto I like to play with various combinations of herbs and nuts and often exclude the parmesean cheese.  Pistachio, mint and lime make a tasty variation but I’m still trying to perfect the recipe – will try next time I make it to capture the exact ingredients and measures.  

The following recipe was my contribution to the Churchill Park School cookbook that I photographed last year.  Both recipes make approximately 1 cup. 

Basil or Parsley Pesto

  • 2 cups basil (tightly packed) OR flat leaf parsley
  • 2 large cloves garlic (peeled and sliced)
  • ½ cup pinenuts
  • ¼ cup finely grated fresh parmesan
  • Approx ½ to ¾ cup good quality olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Place the basil (or parsley) and garlic into food processor bowl and pulse until roughly chopped. 
  2. Add pinenuts and parmesan and process until well combined. 
  3. With motor running, drizzle in enough oil to form a smooth paste. 
  4. Season with freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkle of salt.
basil and pinenuts

Coriander & Walnut Pesto

  • 1 bunch coriander, stalks & all
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts
  • 2 large cloves garlic (peeled and sliced)
  • 2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • Zest & juice of two lemons
  • 1/4cup olive oil (more or less depending on desired consistency)
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  1. Place all ingredients except olive oil and seasoning in food processor, then pulse in bursts until coarsely mixed.
  2. Slowly add olive oil while motor is running.
  3. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Perfect with barbecued chicken skewers or roast chicken with crispy skin.

coriander walnut pesto

Tip: different herbs produce varying strengths of flavour intensity so it’s important to ensure you taste and adjust the seasoning before serving or if you’re not using immediately, sealing the jar with olive oil.

Hope you enjoy experimenting with various flavour combinations.


Favourite Kitchen Gadget

You can never have too many kitchen gadgets but you might be surprised which one is my real favourite.  What might not be so unexpected is that sometimes, you could use one tool instead of the other, though not always with the same desired effect.

One is red, shiny and heavy. It required hours of research before purchase and thankfully doesn’t jump around the bench like the old one.  With simplistic controls not too dissimilar to traffic lights there’s no mistaking their purpose.  An abundance of bowls, blades and accessories makes it so incredibly versatile.  The one and only drawback - they really need to design one that self-cleans!.

Mint and pistachio pesto

The other is simple both in function and form, and timeless in design and composition.  I love the transformation of ingredients from one outward appearance to another - the physical crushing, grinding and often pounding that then reveals itself as an aromatic spice rub, a smooth dip or even a chunky guacamole.

Coriander Pesto

While I love them both, I will leave you to decide which one I can’t live without.  And feel free to comment on what is your favourite kitchen gadget and why.


Telegraph Hill Olivery

The red and green branding is distinctly recognisable as Telegraph Hill but just quietly you might be surprised just how extensive their product range is.  With shelf space in supermarkets and some speciality food stores at capacity, even established food producers find it challenging to get new products in store.

Telegraph Hill Olivery tasting room

Telegraph Hill Olivery tasting room

Telegraph Hill Olivery was my first stop visiting local food producers in and around Hawkes Bay in early February and I was lucky enough to get Adrienne’s expert knowledge all to myself.  Had I called in during the afternoon, a large tour party would have been vying for her attention.  I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Adrienne explain the rich history of Telegraph Hill - she’s been involved with Telegraph Hill for many years. And of course tasting an extensive range of oils, olives, chutneys and much more.

Telegraph Hill olive oil tasting

Telegraph Hill olive oil tasting

Telegraph Hill was New Zealand’s first olivery back in 2001, and Hawke’s Bay is New Zealand’s biggest olive region, with more than half the country’s production. The Telegraph Hill main grove has 2000 trees and utilises local contract growers to provide fruit to keep up with production demands. What started as a cottage industry in Rose Gresson's (a dietician) home kitchen and selling with the assistance of her friend Jackie at the Hawke’s Bay Farmers Market, now operates from a purpose built Olivery, complete with viewing window. The business is now owned and run by Geoff Crawford who has been involved for many years and is incredibly passionate about the New Zealand olive industry.

Olive trees at the Olivery

Olive trees at the Olivery

But for me, the hardest decision was deciding what to take home.  In the end, I settled on: Flowering Oregano and Lemon Olives - perfect for a nibbles platter; Olive Zing - a fabulous versatile seasoning combining olive powder, organic flaky salt, pepper, chilli and lemon; and a bottle of Wasabi Vinaigrette, a smooth Asian style dressing with a peppery finish, perfect for salads, fish and chicken or drizzled on warm potatoes.  And my new favourite - Manuka Smoked Tomato Pesto – absolutely loving it by the looks of the half full jar!

Telegraph Hill olives tasting

Telegraph Hill olives tasting

To find out what other products are on offer or for great recipes and ideas visit or drop into the Olivery next time you’re in Hawke’s Bay.  I will definitely be back.


ps  keep an eye out for a more posts on New Zealand food producers as this becomes a regular feature on The Foodie Inc blog.  And if you think of a product or person to include, let us know.


Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I always return from my foodie adventures with fabulous products from the food producers I visit and love finding ways to use them. On my most recent trip to Hawke's Bay I discovered Manuka Smoked Tomato Pesto from Telegraph Hill

Friday night provided a perfect opportunity to use the pesto as I was cooking dinner for friends on Waiheke Island.  While I made dessert, Upside Down Black Doris cakes before leaving home, I wanted something quick and easy to put together so I could spend more time enjoying friends’ company, than in the kitchen.   

So here's a simple yet tasty chicken dish (serves 4), perfect for weeknights. Excuse the photo; I completely forgot to take one minus the toothpicks! 

  • 4 skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 Tbsp pesto
  • 8 thin slices feta cheese (approx 100g)
  • 8 thickly sliced sun dried tomatoes
  • 2 large handfuls baby spinach
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 8 rashers streaky bacon
  • 1 lemon, zest & juice
  • Small handful of fresh thyme sprigs
  • Cracked black pepper
Feta, pesto and spinach stuffed chicken breast, recipe by The Foodie Inc

Feta, pesto and spinach stuffed chicken breast, recipe by The Foodie Inc

  • Heat oven to 180 deg C on fan bake
  • Line large flat dish with baking paper
  • Cut each chicken breast horizontally so you can open them out flattish, like a book
  • Spread pesto evenly across insides of chicken breast
  • Layer feta cheese, tomatoes, spinach and basil on one half of each chicken breast
  • Fold over other half of chicken breast
  • Tightly wrap two rashers of bacon around each chicken breast and secure with toothpicks
  • Place on tray and sprinkle generously with lemon zest and juice
  • Top with thyme sprigs and freshly ground black pepper
  • Cook for 25-30 minutes until bacon is crispy and chicken cooked through
  • Carefully remove toothpicks and cut each breast into three pieces
  • Serve with a simple green salad and minted potatoes.

And of course you can make them without bacon but you will need to secure with extra toothpicks.

Happy cooking.