Behind the Apron: Pesto

With a fresh bag of basil from my local farmer’s market, I am more than ready to restock my freezer and fridge with fresh pesto. I am a relative newcomer to pesto, as I never dressed my pasta with anything other than marinara until I started to travel. The more I got into cooking, my kitchen and some useful appliances like a mini food processor, the more I realized I could whip up on my own, including the green stuff.

PESTO
Adapted from About.com1 small clove garlic, chopped (to taste)
1/3 C pine nuts, lightly toasted +
1 1/4 C fresh basil leaves, packed
1/4 C EVOO
1 Tbs butter (optional)
1 C parmesan cheese, grated
salt, pepper to taste

In a food processor, pulse nuts and garlic until fine. Add basil and process to mix. With processor running, add oil through the top. Add butter if using and parmesan cheese until mixed. Salt and pepper as needed.

There are many ways to preserve pesto, thanks to smart people and the Internet. One I particularly enjoy is scooping out the pesto by tablespoon onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and popping it into the freezer. Once frozen, you can store the spoonfuls in a container and add quickly to any recipe as needed. Pesto does freeze very well, so it will last a long time.

+ The great nut debate ranges from traditional pine nuts to more modern choices like pistachios. Really it’s up to the chef, and your pantry. I do think an oily nut makes for a better pesto, so I like pine nuts and walnuts. That said I’ve experimented with almonds and have plans for pistachios.
+ Most recipes encourage lightly toasting your nut of choice in a dry skillet on medium heat to bring out the oils. Don’t you dare walk away from it, because that will end badly for you and your pending pesto.

Pesto belongs on:
* pasta – I mix a scoop of pesto with a scoop of plain Greek yogurt and it makes a quick and dreamy sauce for any noodle* breakfast sammies – This is my new favorite use of pesto. When prepping an English muffin for a breakfast sandwich, one side gets butter and the other gets pesto. It’s the perfect kick for the egg, bacon & cheese standard.
* anywhere you put mayo – A tasty alternative.

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3 thoughts on “Behind the Apron: Pesto

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