3 pesto’s 3 ways

by Sam on August 19, 2013

BLT with pesto mayo

tomatoes for a BLT with pesto mayo

BLT with pesto mayo

BLT with pesto mayo

corn on the cob with cilantro pesto, chilli and parmesan

pasta with creamy basil pesto and peas

I started this blog three and a half years ago because I thought it would be fun to take some of my pent-up food obsession and channel it into something creative.

Food has been the biggest adventure in my life and I have been baking and cooking since I was 6. I’ve built my career in and around food – first studying at Hotel School, where I received formal culinary training, then working in the hospitality industry (restaurants, hotels and bars) for many years.

Somewhere around my late twenties I wanted a new challenge, we are supposed to have many careers right? So I studied marketing part time at night college, and then went on to work as a brand manager for a number of FMCG companies for 7 years. I always managed food and fast food restaurant brands, and during my career I was involved with taking over 100 products to market. My last job was at Nando’s, where my portfolio as a national brand manager was to oversee the menu and all marketing related activities related to that.

I loved my career in marketing. It gave me the intellectual stimulation I was looking for and experience in business that has been invaluable to me ever since, but I yearned to move back to Cape Town. I knew I wanted to work more closely around food creativity, and I also knew that at some point I had to work for myself. Anyone who knows me well will know I am not the easiest person to manage, and being my own boss was really the only option for me going forward.

I started out as a food stylist and have been developing that part of my career over the last five years, specialising in commercial advertising and TV work. Not one to let the grass grow under my feet, and to fill every corner of my life, I also started the first online cupcake company in Cape Town in 2008 and baked up a storm until around the end of 2009. I created an artisan cold smoking food business – The Smoking Shed (which was sadly short-lived), started Drizzle and Dip and wrote my first cookbook.

The last thing I planned or expected on this wonderful adventure was to turn into a professional food photographer.

Thousands of images later, years of practice, reading and research, not to mention masses of money spent on equipment, I find myself a little overwhelmed that I am now being paid – actual money, to take pictures for other people.

I still have places I want to take my work and things I will learn, but the bug has bitten and I am entranced by the art and craft of food photography and literally cant wait to get into my studio and try a few new things.

One of the lovely companies I got to take a couple of pictures for recently is Pesto Princess. This business, which literally started as a home industry has blossomed into a well-loved national supplier of a range of the most delectable pesto’s.

I created these three very easy recipe ideas using the pesto’s they gave me for the shoot – which incidentally freeze perfectly for up to three months despite being in glass jars. Pesto really is one of the most amazingly versatile ingredients and I was inspired to take a few photographs.

This is the art work I shot for them which went into retailers around South Africa for their Love Winter campaign.

pesto princess

I loved working on this project with the uber talented graphic designer Roxy Spears of Good Design, and we are thrilled that it has led to a new client. Roxy has designed many a marvelous thing including the best selling cookbook A Week in The Kitchen written by Karen Dudley and based on her wildly popular Cape Town eatery of the same name.

A BLT with rocket pesto mayo:

One of the Pesto Princess pesto’s is made from rocket and is delectable on sandwiches, but any pesto will work with this. I loved how it added a dash of herby deliciousness to an already fabulous sandwich.

There really isn’t a recipe, just mix the pesto through your favourite mayo, or make your own. You can find my incredibly easy recipe by clicking over here.

I grill my bacon in the oven as I find this the best way to cook a lot to the right degree of crispness. I literally lay the bacon on a tray – always streaky, and preferably a dry cured version, and roast in the oven at 200 C / 400 F for about 8 – 10 minutes until it is exactly how you like it.

I toast the sliced bread on griddle pan, because I love the flavour and the pretty grill marks, and cos / romain lettuce is my preferred leaf for this sandwich. Its got all the crunch you want here.

Use the most awesome and ripe tomatoes you can find. You can also slowly roast these in the oven at a low temperature for an hour to intensify their flavour.

BLT with pesto mayonnaise

Grilled corn on the cob with cilantro pesto butter, chilli and Parmesan:

Nothing beats delicious sweetcorn on the cob with butter melting into it, but now that I have tried it with pesto butter, and in particular the Thai pesto – made with coriander / cilantro, I don’t think I want it any other way. I added loads of sea salt flakes, a pinch or two of dried chilli flakes and sprinkled finely grated Parmesan all over. Utterly delicious!

A spritz or two of lime juice would have worked, but I couldn’t find any at the time.

Ideally you want to grill the corn on a BBQ or fire, but I used a griddle pan in my kitchen. I pre cooked them for 5 minutes in boiling salted water, and then turned them over the hot pan until they started to brown.

I mixed the pesto with the softened butter to a ratio of 1:2 – but you can make it as pungent as you want.

Serve while they are warm with butter slathered all over them, chilli and finely grated Parmesan cheese. Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper is required too.

corn on the cob with cilantro pesto, chilli and parmesan

Fettuccine with creamy basil pesto and peas

Adding cream to a basic pesto pasta makes it more luscious and saucy and peas are lovely too.

Make the sauce as strong as you like but I used 1/2 cup of fresh cream to about 3 generous tablespoons of basil pesto, which I brought to the boil and allowed to to simmer for a few minutes until it just started to thicken. I cooked 200g of pasta – enough for 2 people, and 3 minutes before it was ready I added 3/4 of a cup of frozen peas (fresh would be better). When the peas are heated through and the pasta is cooked, drain them together and pour over the creamy sauce. Serve with generous amounts of freshly grated Parmesan.

With hindsight, crispy bacon would have made this pasta a whole lot more tasty.

pasta with creamy basil pesto and peas

BLT with pesto mayo

I look forward to connecting with you again in the future.

Visit my Drizzle and Dip Facebook page to get updates of all my posts.

I can also be found enthusiastically pinning beautiful food images on Pinterest, and snapping pics of my life in Cape Town and what I eat on Instagram

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

dao August 19, 2013 at 11:55 am

wow, you’re such an inspiration. Your path is really consistent and impressive. I’ve been passionate about food all of my life but only very lately did I start to take some professional steps towards it.So it is very interesting to see how you’ve built all of your capacities and dared jumping in. Thanks for sharing!

Sam August 19, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Thanks Dao, yeah it was incredibly scary resigning from my fabulous job back then, but I have not looked back, but also worked incredibly hard to try and make this dream a reality. I hope it does become that. good luck – and remember – the most important thing is to show up :-)

Euodia August 19, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I love the photos for the Pesto Princess ads, and really enjoyed reading about your career, we never know where life leads us, one moment I thought I was a graphic designer the next I’m a kindergarten teacher then an illustrator, then a home ware designer, then an artist. And I’m sure there will be lots more to add to both of our lists.

Hein August 19, 2013 at 12:05 pm

So inspiring Sam. The pesto campaign shots are beautiful.

Sam August 19, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Thanks Euodia, isn’t life just so marvelous and so exciting that we can have so many different careers. Yours sounds fascinating and clearly you have a very creative edge.

Sam August 19, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Thanks Hein :-)

Danni August 19, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Awesome blog Sam! You are are super talented and a real inspiration for always following your heart! Love you lots x

Didi @ Dishin with Didi August 19, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Absolutely loved it! Your story is inspiring as the photos are enticing. Heck, who am I kidding, I’m now starving!!
Sharing my friend!!

Lisa the Gourmet Wog August 19, 2013 at 1:17 pm

I hope one day I’m half as successful as you! Honest :)

Lori August 19, 2013 at 4:04 pm

So glad to have experienced some of that journey with you x

Sam August 19, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Thanks Danni, love you lots too xx

Sam August 19, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Thanks Didi, I hope it all pays off in the end x

Sam August 19, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Hi Lisa, thanks, I do hope that this is a life I can sustain x

Usha August 19, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Sam! wow! Amazing! Love your career path,admire your Hutzpah, & you are an inspiration to me and I only wish the very best for you from herein.

Laura (Tutti Dolci) August 19, 2013 at 9:49 pm

I love reading about your background, you inspire me to keep learning and having fun along the way! :) I especially like the grilled corn – cilantro pesto has always appealed to me!

Sam August 20, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Thanks Laura :-) – some people hate cilantro, but I’m a fan.

Sam August 20, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Thanks Usha, lets hope I can grow from here xx

Carolie August 20, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Hi Sam

This is so inspiring to read – nothing ever happens overnight! This morning Joyce Meyer said you start off by lifting
5 kg weights and with a lot of input you can eventually lift 25 kg with ease and the 5 kg feel like chicken bones … but this muscle development takes time!

In New Zealand the kids have a joke… World famous in New Zealand. You are by now world famous in SA and I am sure it will really become in the world eventually!

Have you any pics of a new kind of “take” on Boboti? I browsed up and down your recipe lists and got lost in them and was again amazed to discover all the stunning recipes that you have there!

Carolie xx

Sam August 20, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Hi Carolie, so true about the incremental hard work.
No, I have never done a babootie, although if I did I would probably go with something very traditional because I love the dish. My aunt gave me one that goes back to her childhood days growing up with my mom in Upington. It’s sort of always been on my back burner to make. I may be able to find you one though.

Sam

suzanne Perazzini August 27, 2013 at 11:55 am

What a great variety of pestos. Your photos are especially beautiful in this post. I loved reading your journey to where you are now as a photographer.

Sam August 27, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Thanks Suzanne :-)

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