Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Rosie Makes An Impromptu Pesto.

Mr. Hawthorne just walked in from the garden with a handful of produce. Make me some pesto. Not a problem.
Ingredients for pesto: About 2-3 cups basil, packed 4-5 garlic cloves 1 cup nuts (I'm using pecans, almonds, and walnuts.) 3/4 - 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I'm partial to Il Villagio, found at the Teeter.) Process everything, then slowly add in ELBOO, while processing. (That's Extra Light Bertolli Olive Oil!) Enough olive (2/3 - 1 cup) until you have a smooth mixture. You want the consistency looser than a paste but not liquid. I generally don't add salt since the Parmesan provides enough for my tastes. I do like to add freshly ground pepper. As always, taste test. There's no one recipe for pesto. It's not etched in stone. If you want more garlic flavor, then add in more garlic. If you think it needs more Parmesan, then by all means add more. If you want to try a different nut, say walnuts, or the traditional pine nuts for pesto, go ahead and experiment. I prefer pecans because I like the flavor of pecans, but I also had almonds and walnuts in the fridge. If you want a slightly different flavor profile, add in a few handfuls of parsley and a little mint. You could add fresh spinach or tarragon, although be careful with the tarragon. It has a licorice/anise flavor but is much stronger and more powerful than basil. Sun-dried tomato is another flavor component you might want to consider. Also, the type of olive oil you use will give your pesto another nuance. That's one of the reasons I like my ELBOO. (That's Extra Light Bertolli Olive Oil, folks!) It doesn't overpower delicate flavors like some Extra Virgin Olive Oils can. I'd love to do a taste testing of Extra Virgins to find ones I really like. Every now and then I get one which has a slight turpentine taste to it. Maybe that's just me, though. Perhaps I detect a turpentine component the way some people perceive the taste of cilantro as soap-like. I never tasted soap flavor in cilantro. To me cilantro is more earthy, like pond scum. Yes, Rosie does indeed know what pond scum tastes like. Then again, there's that alleged "genetic disposition" concerning cilantro. There is generally a pro-camp and the cilantro-haters. Not much in-between ground there. I'm not so sure I believe that we're genetically geared to either like or dislike cilantro. At least I'm not geared that way. I used to hate cilantro. Along with bleu cheese. I kept tasting, every time I had the chance. And after about 20 years, I love bleu cheese. Same thing with cilantro. When I first tried it, I hated it. Over the course of years, we started going to more Mexican restaurants and were gradually introduced to cilantro. The salsa would have just the slightest taste of cilantro. I wanted more. And now I love cilantro. Took me 26 years though. Can one will their palate to change?
Let's make pesto.
Walnuts going in.
Pecans going in.
Almonds in.
Peel the garlic gloves.
About a cup of Parmesan.
Grated Parmesan.
You can get an idea of the ratio of ingredients here. Like I said, it's not written in stone.
Add in a little olive oil.
You want a slightly pourable, spreadable consistency.
I always pour a thin film of oil over top, then cover with plastic wrap touching the pesto. This keeps it from drying out and turning dark, if you're leaving it in the refrigerator for a few days. I like to pour the pesto into ice cube trays, freeze the pesto, then pop the pesto cubes into freezer bags. Whenever you want pesto, you'll have it on hand. There's nothing better in the cold winter than to pop one of these cubes out and toss it with pasta. Close your eyes and it's summer! Another wonderful way to enjoy pesto is to spread some on toasted whole wheat or rye bread, top with turkey or chicken slices, maybe some bacon, top that with Mozzarella or Swiss cheese, then give it a trip under the broiler to get the cheese bubbling. Top with pickle slices and potato chips and you have a wonderful sandwich. Yes, I like potato chips inside my sandwich. Pesto is an excellent food stuff. It's green. It's vibrant. It possesses deep, full herbal flavors. It tastes like summer. Pesto is summer.


Anonymous said...

Love pesto, hate cilantro. It is true that I like some things now I thought I didn't like in my youth, but when cilantro hits my mouth it takes over ALL over flavors. Not a fan and there are plenty of herbs out there that I really like. I know the common description of cilantro by the haters is that is tastes like soap but I think it is more vile that that.
Carry on with your bad self, Rosie! Keep loving your cilantro and I'll take parsley.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Nothing wrong with parsley, NMOAC.