July 9, 2012 § 1 Comment
Pesto makes me happy. It just does. Just like the pop of a champagne bottle means something celebratory is about to happen, the knowledge that pesto is in a dish means something tasty is about to be experienced.
Basil is just the tip of the pesto iceberg. It’s the easy and expected version. But when the garden presents one with an abundance of other herbs, it’s a prime opportunity to explore other pesto flavors. That’s how this batch of cilantro pesto came about. A 3-ft. row of cilantro plants was beginning to bolt (i.e. grow quickly and produce flowers), and rather than let it go to seed, I opted to harvest it all. And what’s the best way to use large amounts of herbs? Pesto.
Like anything with cilantro, this pesto goes pretty darn well with Mexican food. It’s also tasty spread inside a grilled cheese and as a base for a pizza. And the best thing about this version is … it’s accidentally vegan.
- 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves (and I also threw in the flowers)
- 1 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
- 1/3 cup whole almonds
- 1 small fresh chili (jalapeno is good)
- 2 garlic cloves coarsely chopped
- 2 tbs fresh lime juice (I used a whole lime)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- salt and pepper to taste
-Place all ingredients except lime juice and oil in a food processor and pulse several times to chop finely.
-With the foodpro on, add the juice and oil in a steady stream. If you like your pesto saucy, add a bit more oil.
All my pesto recipes come from the The Moosewood Kitchen Garden cook-garden book. The dill pesto recipe is also a keeper. I’ll share, but first my dill needs to grow a bit more.
September 27, 2011 § 2 Comments
Leaves falling from trees, temperatures dropping, plants succumbing to the elements, days shortening … The world as we’ve known it these last few months is coming to an end. We must eat as many fresh tomatoes and as much basil as possible.
I’ve taken up that challenge, gladly. Who wouldn’t? Fresh tomatoes and bright bristly green basil is the ultimate garden combination, really perking up the mouth with the pairing of acid and mellowness. I don’t have to describe it—you know all too well how delectable the two are together.
Maybe one of the simplest pairings of tomato and basil is in a sandwich. I know, it’s not really a recipe. It’s more of a lunch suggestion. And if you’re like me and disregard the miniscule amount of Parmesan cheese in pesto, tomato and pesto on toasted sourdough becomes a vegan meal. The tomatoes—homegrown. The pesto—homemade, with the added “yeehaa!” of the basil being homegrown. The sourdough—made by my own two little hands.
Want to share lunch with me? There’s enough here for at least five more sandwiches.
Your favorite tomato—basil combination? Do tell. (please! feel free to share below!)
August 23, 2011 § 3 Comments
Think of all the good things in life.
Basil. Mmmm … Parmesan cheese … Olive oil … Garlic … Nuts … Chocolate … Okay, wait, drop that last one. All these are tasty on their own, very tasty. But whir them up together in a yummy pasty sauce and you have heaven on a spoon—basil pesto.
Basil is just one of the pesto varieties we make in the Dainty household. There are others. Oh, there are others. But typically, basil pesto is the shining star in so many dishes. A couple of dollops on pasta for a quick on-the-go meal. Spread it cautiously as a pizza topping. And schmear it on some rye bread for a tomato-provolone-pesto grilled cheese. Oh, yeah, I went there. Grilled. Cheese.
The secrets to good basil pesto are two-fold: Great-quality ingredients and a nice ratio of basil:parm:pine nuts:evoo. The amount of garlic, honestly, depends on your tastes. The recipe I use is from an old, back-‘n-the-day Moosewood cookbook called the Moosewood Restaurant Kitchen Garden. Not too much cheese. Not too saucy. Plenty of basil flavor.
Pesto Genovese (from Moosewood Restaurant Kitchen Garden)
- 3 cups loosely packed basil (avoid stems)
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
- 2-3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup evoo
-Place the basil, pine nuts parm and garlic in a food processor. I like to put in half of all the ingredients, give it a whir, and then add the other half and give it a whir. That’s just the best way in my machine – things don’t get jammed in there that way. Be sure everything is chopped evenly. Give it a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
-With the food processor on, sloooooowly add the olive oil in a steady stream. It’ll slowly become paste-like. It may bunch up on the bottom—stop the machine and get all the good stuff from the corners. DON’T add all the oil. Stop the machine, give it a tasty. Good? Needs salt and pepper? Add some. Is the consistency kinda rough and thick and you like it? Then stop. Like it a bit more smooth? Keep whirring and add the remaining oil.
NOTE: The beauty of pesto is this: It can be any way you want it to be. Chunky. Rough. Pasty. Saucy. Hey, you’re the one eating it. Eat what you like.
-When it’s whirred to your liking, use what you intended it for right away.
OR—and this is the important part—take action to keep the pesto’s vibrant, fresh-green color. Here’s how:
-Place the pesto in an airtight food storage container (glass, plastic, whatever) that is large enough to allow some room on top. Smooth the top into a flat layer.
-Drizzle a thin layer of evoo on top so it completely covers the pesto. You don’t need to much but you do need to make sure all the pesto is covered.
This keeps the air from oxidizing the basil and keeps the bright green color. But you’re smaht, I’m sure you already knew that.
Enjoy. And maybe when it’s time to harvest our parsley before the first frost, I’ll share my super-secret recipe for parsley pesto.