Saturday, October 1, 2011

Presto! Pesto!

The Hawthornes love their pesto.
Especially during the winter,
 when we can pop a frozen cube of pesto
into a pile of pasta and watch its amazing greenness and goodness
 cascade over the noodles.
 Or make a green basil pesto pizza
 with Mozzarella and tomato slices.
 Or a gazillion other things you can do with the heavenly pesto.
I've made pesto several times already this summer
but I wanted some to freeze for winter.
 Here's a Rosie Tip # 721:
  To keep my basil growing throughout the summer season
 and not go to seed,  I take some pruners
and lop off the tops of the basil when it starts to flower.

 You can see the lopped off flower stalks on the ground.
Another bed of basil.
 Rosie loves her basil.
 I planted all this by seed back in April/May.
 It's still producing since I prune it and use it several times a week.
When picking basil to make pesto,
 use the youngest, most tender, most flavorful bright green leaves.
Dump the bigger, lighter-colored leaves.
By the way, this is my pre-Irene basil.
 I went out and picked all the basil I had right before Irene came
 since I knew I wouldn't have any left.
 Happily, my pre-Irene basil self-seeded,
so I'll have more basil in a few weeks.
Here's my recipe for pesto:
8 cups basil leaves, loose
 8 garlic cloves
 1 cup pecans
1 1/4 cups olive oil
 I use ELBOO. That's Extra Light Bertolli Olive Oil!
1 1/4 cups Parmesan, grated
 I use Il Villagio from the Teeter.
 Kosher salt to taste
 Process basil, garlic, and pecans. Drizzle in olive oil while processing. Add salt and taste test. Add in grated Parmesan. Taste test. Add more olive oil if necessary. You want a fairly spoonable mixture. This recipe reduced to 3 cups of pesto, which 2 ice cube trays will accept. The recipe is not etched in stone either. Traditionally, pesto is made with pine nuts, but I prefer the flavor of pecans. Don't care for pine nuts. As always, taste test. If you'd like more garlic, then add it. If you'd like more Parmesan, then by all means throw it in. Add in enough olive oil to get the texture the way you like it.

Here are my eight garlic cloves.
The best way to dispatch a garlic clove
 is to take the broad side of a knife on top of the clove
and smash it with your hand.
The clove slips right out of the skin.
Pecans going into basil leaves and garlic.
You know how I like my action shots.
Parmesan joins the party. Drizzle olive oil in while processing.
I spooned the pesto into 2 ice cube trays.

Then pop out of the trays and store in freezer bags.
 Bring out in the dead of winter
 to bring some vibrant summer into your life.
 February, I'm lookin' at you.

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