Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pesto now, Pasta later

It’s hard for me to put into words exactly how much I love pasta. So I’ll take this in another direction… My favorite pasta sauce is pesto.

The most wonderful thing about pesto is that you can use what you have on hand, and it will always turn out tasting fresh and flavorful.

I use sweet basil because it is what we have in our garden. I also use walnuts because pine nuts are crazy expensive. We also happen to always have a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano in the fridge, but feel free to use Romano or Asiago. The cheese just needs to be firm, pungent, and salty.

What you will need:

Two large handful of sweet basil, about 2 cups

¼ cup (or so) of walnuts, pine nuts if you’re fancy

A clove or two of garlic, more if you’re a garlic lover

¼ cup of parmesan cheese

Extra virgin olive oil

Coarse Sea Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Here’s what you do:

Tip: If you would like to freeze the pesto to use in the future, rather than using it all at once, you should first blanch the basil. Blanching the basil keeps it from turning black over time. If you choose not to do this step, the basil should taste fine, but it won’t be as visually appealing.

In a food processor (or blender) combine basil, walnuts, garlic, cheese, and a few shakes of salt and pepper. Blend ingredients while streaming in olive oil. If you are freezing the pesto, you simply want it to form into a paste. If you are using the pesto immediately, add more olive oil until it reaches the consistency you need.

If you find that the taste is slightly off, add pepper to give the sauce more flavor, add salt to enhance the flavor, or add lemon juice to give it an extra bite. Remember that it will taste very pungent initially. Once heated, the pesto takes on it's actual flavor which tends to be much more mild.

Place in an airtight container and move to the freezer.

When using your pre-made basil pesto from the freezer, add slightly thawed pesto to a well-oiled pan to sauté, or slather onto vegetables, meat, or fish as a marinade.

Other ideas:

  • Thin layer of pesto onto a sliced baguette, topped with tomato & mozzarella
  • Spoon pesto onto a pile of gnocchi, sprinkle with extra parmesan cheese
  • Vegetarian-pesto lasagna with seasonal veggies & ricotta cheese
  • Slather onto homemade pizza dough with chicken, onion, and olives.. then bake!



1 comment:

  1. I love Pesto, I will have to try it with walnuts, thanks for the tip!


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