Rabbit with Green Sauce and Pine Nuts

This is my version of an Italian green sauce and is a cross between salsa verde and pesto sauce. I think it is so good on all kinds of pasta and very good indeed poured over large dishes of thinly carved cold veal pork or lamb at parties. It is best made with quite a lot of fresh basil which is what gives it the very special taste that may bring vividly back the smell and feel of a visit to Italy. But if you have no basil you can make it with parsley, and I add capers and perhaps some mint leaves. Fresh fennel or dill leaves also are very good in this sauce, and lovage in small quantities. The Italians often grind pine nuts up in the sauce but I prefer to sprinkle them on top. You can make the sauce in advance as it is cold and you put it over the food at the last moment. It only takes a moment to make in a liquidiser but if you do not have one you must chop the herbs very finely before mining them with the other ingredients.

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Ingredients

For the Green Sauce

  • The quantities for these are only approximate – it will not matter if they are not exact.
  • juice of 1 small lemon
  • 10–12 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic – peeled
  • 2–3 oz fresh basil, parsley and mint – or whatever you can get (50–75 g)
  • 2–4 teaspoons capers
  • 1½ oz grated Parmesan (40 g)
  • about 2 tablespoons pine nuts – available in Greek and Cypriot shops or delicatessens
  • salt, black pepper

For the Rabbit

  • For the rabbit
  • 1 good joint of rabbit per person
  • salt, pepper
  • olive oil

Method

Put all the ingredients except for the nuts into a blender and whizz up for a moment or two until thick and fairly smooth.

Salt and pepper the rabbit joints and spoon a little olive oil over each. Put the joints either into a shallow earthenware dish which you can serve from or into a roasting pan. Cover the dish with foil and cook in the centre of the oven Gas 5 (375°F/190°C) for 1½–2 hours. Then drain the juices from the rabbit (which you should keep as they make a good jellied stock), and if you cooked it in a roasting pan, transfer the joints to a large shallow serving dish. Then spoon the green sauce thickly over each joint and sprinkle with pine nuts. I think this is good served with buttered noddles and carrots, or perhaps a tomato salad.

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