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I've cooked a few times with Sacla Classic Basil Pesto but I won't be doing it again today. The last jar I used was much too salty and had a taste of plastic, it was basically inedible. Having come back from Italy and eating my mother's fresh home-made basil pesto I realised even more just how little this Sacla stuff resembles the real thing.
For those that don't know pesto is a mix of olive oil, garlic, Parmesan and basil.
PRICE - normally thus is on offer for 2 jars for £2, but if it's not it's around the £1.50 price mark.
TASTE - er, garlicky basil goodness!
USES - this pesto is ideal as a pasta sauce - just stir it through the pasta. It's also really good in toasted sandwiches with cheese and roasted peppers and it's also really good served as a condiment with a plate of grilled fish. It's such a versatile ingredient and instantly adds flavour to any dish.
AFTER USE - the jars are a fantastic size I find for making mini pots of jam, and I've also turned a few into mini sewing kit storage jars and added a pin cushion to the top. The jar size is really good.
Every cupboard should have a jar or two of this in at all times.
I pick this Sacla pesto up whenever it's on offer, it goes into a variety of Italian dishes, but I also like it mostly as a quick simple (for simple, read lazy!) dish stirred into pasta - it doesn't even need heating. Pesto is one of my favourite Italian flavours - so simple yet really versatile, made with just these few ingredients...
The basil is the star of any pesto show, and in this product, the pesto is beautiful - very strong - almost powerful - and a really deep aroma and flavour. It also gives the pesto it's gorgeous green colour.
Garlic is a key ingredient in pesto, but there's no mention of it in the ingredients! It must be incorporated into the mention of "flavourings" which to me, was a bit of a disappointment to discover.
When the jar is opened, the first thing you notice is the oil on top of the pesto - and in here are both sunflower seed oil and olive oil. Fortunately though, a good stir and the pesto isn't at all over-oily in eating.
The nuts are quite prevelant in this pesto - they are finely chopped but certainly still give a very noticeable texture - even a bit of crunch - to it. They use cashew nuts as well as the traditional pine kernels.
Traditionally, pesto is made using Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino cheese - this product has Grana Padano and Pecorino. Grana Padano is pretty much a like-for-like substitute for Parmigiano Reggiano - both what I would usually call "parmesan", although Padano is supposedly lower in sodium and cholesterol so the substitute is no bad thing.
My only concern with this pesto is that the last couple of times I've used it I have found the dishes really salty. This is something I never used to notice, so not sure if that reflects a recipe change, or just a salty batch I bought. It's something to be aware of though if you normally add salt elsewhere in your cooking, because there is more than enough flavour in this pesto. The value of the sodium is listed as the equivalent of 1.4g salt per serving.
Only a small amount of this pesto is needed, because it really is quite powerful in its flavours. The small jar (190g) states "for 4) and I use 2 heaped teaspoons to make more than enough coating for pasta for myself. When we are using it in dishes (eg coating meat) only a thin layer is really needed. Once open it can keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, which is a good job because for 2 of us, one jar easily does two separate meals, and even then we might end up wasting some of the jar.
There are warnings on the jar that it contains egg derivatives, milk derivatives and nuts, and it's free from Gluten, Soya, Preservatives, MSG, Sesame products, Sulphur Dioxide & GMO.
The retail of the small jar is about £2 normal price, but often it pops up on offer or in local B&M nearer the £1 mark, and we've also picked up occasionally in pound shops.
My two year olds favourite meal is Green Pesto Pasta with Peas. I am always on the look out for pesto when it is on special offer, as he is not brand loyal. I came across the Scala Classic Basil Pesto for £1.14 in my local supermarket so thought I would give it a go.
It comes in a 190g clear glass jar, with a gold twist off lid, with a pop compression, it says that 190g will serve 4 adults. This usually last me a few weeks, if kept in the fridge.
The ingredients/nutritional values are:
Sunflower Seed Oil, Italian Basil (36%), Grana Padano Cheese, Cashew Nuts, Sea Salt, Glucose, Pecorino Romano Cheese, Crushed Pine Kernels, Flavourings, Potato flakes, Acidity Regulator: Lactic Acid; Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Energy 1872kJ/454kcal, Protein 5.3g, Carbohydrate 6.0g (of which sugars 3.8g), Fat 45.4g (of which saturates 6.5g), Fibre 4.4g, Salt 2.8g
Nuts, Eggs, Milk, Non-Vegetarian Cheese.
Gluten, Soya, Preservatives, MSG, Sesame products, Sulphur Dioxide, GMO
Typical values per 100g
Scala do a range of Pesto which includes, sundried tomato, wild garlic, chilli, aubergine, rocket, coriander, roasted pepper and an organic red tomato and an organic basil pesto. They also do other food ranges, such as pasta, pastes and stir in sauces.
To make my dish, I boil pasta with a handful of peas, once cooked I stir in a tablespoon of pesto, leave to cool and serve.
I also use pesto myself, and make the following dish. I boil some pasta,whilst this is boiling I chop up up some cherry tomatoes and courgette, I gently fry these with garlic and grated ginger, adding a bit of pepper or chilli, when cooked and the pasta is boiled I stir in some pesto and serve, its a quick mid week dinner for all the family.
The Scala pesto is fairly thick in consistency and the olive oil on the top prevents the pesto drying out in the fridge, you can always pour a little extra olive oil over the top to help perserve its life. When you open the lid you are immediatley hit by a very intense basil aroma, shortly followed by the intense flavour of the cheese, it smells divine and tastes even better. The taste of the basil is not too over powering and you taste the complexity of the cheese, pine nuts and extra virgin olive oil. A little goes a long way due to the intensity of the ingredients. I would recommend this product to those who have a love of pesto and those who would like to try it. I will be buying this again as its a great quality product, I will also be trying other Scala pesto in the future.
As a rule, I generally turn my nose up at anything that's sold in a jar. The quality of factory made sauces tends to be pretty horrific. However, there are some exceptions and Sacla's classic pesto is one!
Upon opening the jar, you are greeted by a delicious fresh basil smell. Inside is the pesto is firmly packed in with a generous coating of olive oil. This is important as the olive oil creates a seal protecting the pesto from exposure to the air. Air contact causes pesto to oxidise and quickly take on a nasty bitter taste which should be avoided as much as possible.
The pesto is quite thick, a sort of lush green paste and it has a delicious rich nutty basil flavour with a superb gritty texture. Sacla don't seem to have scrimped on the expensive ingredients, you can really taste the flavour of the cheeses and the nuts alongside the basil.
They've opted for Grana Padano which is unusual as Parmigiano Reggiano would be the more traditional choice. However it's a brilliant decision as it adds to the gritty texture that Parmigiano wouldn't provide. They've also added cashews rather than just pine nuts and I think this provides a creamy taste that offsets the mild bitterness of the basil.
I usually make my own pesto, and still prefer home made, but in the winter, when basil is out of season, a jar of Sacla pesto makes an ideal substitute. I've bought fresh pestos which cost many times more which don't come up to the same standards as Sacla.