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Monday, April 16, 2012

Presto Pesto [again!]

[Reposting a great former post from Emily...]

Sometimes She gets a little inspiration and help from He -- in the She Cooks department.

When my husband and I were newlyweds, way back in the (ahem!) 1980s, we lived in an old 3-story building in a small city situated along the coast of New England. Each floor was its own 5-room apartment and we lived on the first level. Our 3rd-story neighbors were good friends and they were foodies before any of us even knew what a foodie was... so, of course, on their wee deck off of their small living room, they grew pots of tomatoes and basil. In the summertime we would go up there and share a lovely dinner of freshly made linguine pasta with their fabulous homemade pesto. Yum, yum!

This spring my husband happened to (again) wistfully mention how much he loved pesto, so I bought him one basil plant and plopped it into my small herb garden, just to the right and behind the lavender. It thrived and then was promptly eaten by the local four-legged maurauders deer. It came back with a vengeance, and any of you who have grown basil before know where this is going... that one small plant produced quite a bounty of fragrant leaves, a veritable mountain of awesome-smelling-ness, just begging to be pressed into service (pun intended)!

So this past Saturday my husband said he was going to make pesto. He used the recipe he found in our trusty Betty Crocker's New Cookbook.

First, he gathered a whole bunch of basil, tore the leaves off the stems and washed them carefully... well at least I think he washed them carefully, I wasn't actually in the room. At any rate, you can spin or pat the leaves dry -- you'll need 2 cups firmly packed leaves.

Then he placed the washed & dried leaves in a blender or food processor (we don't have a food processor, the blender did fine), and added:
3/4 cup grated (not shredded) Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup olive oil (can partially substitute another vegetable oil if you don't have enough olive, like we did, since we didn't) and
3 cloves garlic (we didn't have any cloves in the fridge so he just used an equivalent amount of crushed garlic from a jar) and
1/4 cup pine nuts (not roasted)
[Pine nuts are expensive, I'll grant you. But they are amazing. You could probably make this recipe with walnuts if you didn't have pine nuts.]
Then he remembered to put the cover on the blender, and blended away, stopping to scrape the sides as needed.

You can enjoy this right away on hot pasta (linguine is nice) -- just toss in as much or as little as you like -- or you can put the sauce into small freezer containers or bags and save for a cold dreary winter day that begs to have some summertime injected into it. (OK that was a weird metaphor, but it's what came to me.)
This recipe makes about 1 1/3 cups pesto. It's hard to say how many servings that is because it will depend on whether you are using this for a main dish or side dish, and/or on how much you love it!