Friday, October 21, 2011

Basil Pesto

Well, I was trying to decide what I should write about...again.... it's not because I haven't made anything, nor is it because I have any shortage of recipes, but I do try to think of things that are seasonal, and people are possibly cooking right now. I made a roasted chicken last night for dinner, that I think I will share soon. It is very good, and fairly easy. You will have most items on hand and you can throw it in the oven and just fill the house with delicious scents, throw together a salad, maybe some dessert and everything comes to the table in a snap.
I made these absolutely amazing  apple pie cookies on Tuesday. I mean they are really good. Flaky, filled with warm apple goodness, bite-sized, and perfect for...well...just about anything. We had tacos, lasagna, and bbq chicken. We also had pesto.
I really, really like pesto, and so does my family. I love making creamy pesto, with some butter, half and half, and chicken stock. It is so flavorful and fresh tasting! The other thing I love about it is it is so easy to make, freezes well, and I can just pull a container out for an impromptu dinner. Like I did on Wednesday. I got back to the house later than I had anticipated. I had forgotten to thaw some chicken. I was running behind. So, I pulled out some frozen cheese tortellini and some pesto, threw together a salad, and voila!
I urge you to make homemade pesto. Everything tastes better, fresher, and healthier when you make it at home. You would probably be surprised at how vibrantly green pesto is when it is first made. And how absolutely amazing it is.
The other great thing about it is, if you ever feel like you want to stray from the traditional basil pesto, you can switch out the nuts (or omit them) change herbs to parsley for a mild flavor, or cilantro for a clean taste, and make a new, different pesto to drizzle on freshly roasted vegetables, pastas, fresh salads, or cheese and crackers.

Basil Pesto
adapted from Bride and Groom Cookbook
1/2 cup pine nuts
4 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
3 cloves chopped garlic
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup grated parmasan

Combine basil, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food proecessor fitted with a steel blade and process until the ingredients are well incorporated, about 15 seconds. Shut off the motor and scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the motor running, slowly add the 1/2 cup olive oil through the feed tube. Shut off the motor and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the cheese and pulse until the mixture comes together and sooks like a thick paste. Use immediately or transfer to a container, drizzle with a thin layer of olive oil, cover tightly, and refrigerate.

The herbal base of this pesto, minus the cheese, can be frozen. Add the cheese after defrosting the pesto and stir well to combine.

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