Thursday, May 19, 2011

First Pesto

Up to now I've strived not to repeat myself here on You Gonna Finish That? (at least not flagrantly), but I'm just so excited about my first pesto of the season, that I had to share it with you in photos.
Toast pignoli (pine nuts) in a dry skillet until lightly browned. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Peal some garlic cloves - how many depends on if you're a real foodie or not - grate lots of fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano, and thoroughly wash fresh basil leaves and either pat dry with paper towels or give a dizzying turn in the old salad spinner.
Combine all ingredients plus a modest shake of salt in a food processor and pulse to a fine chop. Next, slowly drizzle good extra virgin olive oil through the feed tube of your running machine to make a sauce. Add enough oil to make a thick, runny paste. Not too dry, not too wet.
Next bring a pot of slightly salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to the instructions on the package. I found fresh orecchiette (little ears) at my favorite Italian market, they take about half the cooking time of dried pasta. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Off the heat, stir in enough pesto just to coat the pasta. Serve right away with more grated cheese and a cheeky Italian red.
Pesto is easy to make, gentle readers. I really must encourage you to start making and freezing your own. There's an indescribably superior flavor over that which comes from a jar. It's gotta be 'cause it's fresh. The bite and heat of the garlic, the saltiness of the cheese, the sweetness and texture of the pignoli, and finally, the bright herbal kick from the basil. They all add up to something special. And I really do think family and friends appreciate the home-made touch. It tastes better, and shows you care.
True story: I bought a big bunch of fresh basil last Saturday as a garnish for my Ragù alla Bolognese thinking I would use the bulk of it for pesto later in the week. Imagine my disgust at discovering there wasn't a pine nut to be found in the house, usually a staple around here. I couldn't account for the lapse, but slammed cupboard doors over and over looking for something that just wasn't to be found. I think I cursed God that night.
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food


Jeff (UK) said...

Haven't posted a comment for an age - but home made pesto makes me do so.

But what's a cook to do without a food processor??

Blog O. Food said...

A cook without a food processor is not a cook, JMac. Sorry, my blog, my rules.
The Italians use a mortar & pestle for their pesto, big gigantic ones. My considered advice is to bite the bullet and buy a processor. I'm just sayin'!

Megan said...

Being on a budget I've used walnuts instead of pine nuts for my pesto. What do you think? Faux-paus or frugally sound?

Blog O. Food said...

Frugally sound, dear Megan, if not traditional. Pecans can be substituted for pine nuts as well in a pinch. But really, Trader Joe's sells very affordable pignoli. And you can always ask loving siblings for regular care packages. Just sayin'!