Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pesto Presto!

Well, I've just finished an energy bar that has the same flavor profile of what I would imagine a Christmas scented candle tasting like. I can't figure out if I love it or hate it. (Clif's Carrot Cake)

Alright. Let's get down to the pesto. My recipe is one I just made up. Mom and I have been making pesto for years, from the plethora of basil we both seem to plant every year. This year my basil is out of control! I don't go out to visit my little garden much at all that it's 97 degrees everyday with a chance of heat stroke. But everyday, I would say to myself how I must get to making some pesto before the basil goes to seed. I finally did it. I was greeted by a caterpillar, a baby lizard, lots of mosquitoes and a the biggest (and littlest) cucumbers I have ever seen! See what you can grow when you don't pay attention to your garden?

For this recipe, I made it up as I went. I love "eyeballing" stuff when I cook. It's freedom. Recipes are great, but I swear, I can't make one without tweaking it somehow. I like having a base recipe that I can put my own mark on or just start from nothing. Saying it's my own, is a good feeling.

Luckily, my eyeballs were doing their job. This recipe turned out great. Mom suggested we use pecans instead of pine nuts or walnuts. That's a little something she came up with recently and it works great. It sorta makes sense to use pecans, being in the South and all.

Note on the pecans (or almonds, walnuts, whatever): a really quick way to toast them and without dirtying up a pan, is to place them on a paper plate and toast them in the microwave oven. I do 1 minute intervals on 100% and give them a shimmy. When they are fragrant and toasted as you like, they are done! (I will say that pecans toast much faster than almonds because of the high oil content. Approx. 1 1/2 minutes, longer for almonds and walnuts) I love that there's no need to add addition oil, just perfectly toasted nuts. My father-in-law was the one who taught me that little trick.

Now, if you are a raw garlic lover simply dismiss my next comment. I am not a big fan of raw garlic. I find it over powers everything and makes my breath unbearable, not only to others but to myself. To curb the bite of garlic for this recipe, Mom toasted the cloves in a bit of oil in a saute pan over medium heat. I would not say they were caramelized, just half cooked and brown on the outside. It seems to relive the harshness of the little bulb and make it more friendly to my delicate palate.

This makes a big batch of pesto. I'm going to say around 4 cups. Freeze, make tons of pasta, give it away or simple cut the recipe in half.

Here's the recipe:

Foodie House Pesto

Makes approx. 4 cups
Prep time: 20 min.

8 cups packed fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves toasted garlic
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 tsp salt
20 cranks of the pepper mill

Dump everything into your food processor and turn it on. I will say, 8 cups is a lot of basil, so I put in 4 cups, broke it down, then added everything else. Blend until smooth and mid-way, scrap down the sides.

A pretty straight forward recipe, but so versatile in it's uses. I for one, love pesto mayo on a turkey sandwich. For a quick tomato basil soup just plop in a spoonful of this pesto into your tomato soup base...voila!

I hope this pesto finds you well, Foodie Friends.

P.S. I must thank my cutest, but not quite dependable, key grip for the photography sessions. You can see her doing what she does best, (smiling for the camera) while trying to hold the reflector (also known as a waddy piece of watercolor paper) with her Afro (this was right after we took out all her cornrows. I'm pretty sure she could give Tina Turner a run for her money). Thank you, my little Boo!

Note: that is not bloated road-kill in the background. No, that is a my son's newly acquired Pillow Pet...the knock-off brand you get at the mall called "Animallows". Who comes up with this stuff?
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