Sunday, July 24, 2011


Matt and I secretly harbored a fondness for pesto from each and I am not sure why. Actually I am quite certain that my thoughts were along the lines that there was no way my pumpkin hating, caramel discriminating, toffee despising, picky about seafood, have to have everything cooked completely lean hubby would ever like something as wonderful and simple as pesto. I am not sure what his thoughts were though, but recently when my dad gave me a huge amount of it from his prolific basil plant our desire for pesto emerged. As we had dinner ready for the next few days which did not warrant the use of basil tossed with marinara sauce (and we had even more basil than that would have required, even for our basil loving taste buds), we did have room for pesto with pasta in our meal plans. I had never made pesto before, but had been looking for an opportunity to give it a whirl (literally seeing as I used the food processor). Pesto is a wonderful little sauce that can be used as a spread for sandwiches, a topping for pizza or chicken, or a sauce for pasta. I love anything with basil and am quite fond of the texture of pesto as well...I like all the "bits". As with many things, this is not so much a recipe as a method, so please tweak to your hearts desire.

Wash a huge bunch of basil (ours fit into a lunch size paper sack). In food processor, grind up a handful and a half of walnuts (pine nuts (pignoli) are more traditional, but they are freaking expensive) and half a cup of Parmesan. Add basil and a heavy pinch of kosher salt. While food processor is running, stream (or slowly pour in) a decent quality of olive oil. I would start with a quarter cup and taste from there. Your optimal taste will involve a lot of freshness from the basil, a slight grainy and nutty flavor from the walnuts, richness and saltiness from the Parmesan, and a thin olive-y coating from the olive oil. Once you reach that (by tasting and tweaking to add more olive oil) then stop. If you have a thick pesto then we are good...this is what you would use as a sandwich spread, a pizza drizzle, or to spoon a top some grilled chicken. If you were wanting a pasta sauce then I do not recommend you continue to add oil until it is a saturated (like the fat...ha ha...but not really because it is olive oil...ha ha) oily, but pourable sauce. I recommend you save a cup of pasta water from cooking your pasta to thin the sauce out as you coat the noodle of your choice (I am particularly fond of rigatoni, penne, or fettuccine). This makes for a perfect "thinning agent" that also provides additional texture as the pasta yields starch to the water.

I will be making some more pesto tomorrow (another visit to Dad's), but not adding cheese and freezing it. This is the recommendation of every cooking show I have seen, so we will see how it works!


1 comment:

McKay said...

I always freeze it (because it makes such a huge amount if you're trying to use up basil from a prolific plant) and I've frozen it with the cheese, and it did fine even then. Enjoy!