Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Pesto in a Flash

Now that the basil is starting to take off in the garden, it's pesto time. Pesto is such a great summer dish - the only bad part is boiling the pasta. It heats the kitchen up so much. But it's well worth it. You will notice that there really is not a strict recipe here (your are very observant). It's a matter of putting the ingredients together and tasting.
It's spinach tortellini-the pesto didn't make the pasta THAT green!

Pesto in a Flash

1/4 c pine nuts*
2 glove garlic - rough chop
about 1 c fresh basil
about 1/4 c fresh parsley
about 1 c Parmesan or Romano cheese grated
Olive Oil
Salt/Pepper

Lightly toast pine nuts in a skillet. Remove from pan and let cool. Place a small amount of olive oil in pan and cook garlic until fragrant. Remove from pan and let cool.  Place basil, parsley, pine, and pine nuts in food processor. Pulse until rough chopped.  Add cheese and pulse.  Pour about 1/4-1/2 c olive oil into food processor and pulse. Taste. Add salt and pepper and additional olive oil to loosen to the desired consistency.

I know many recipes call for drizzling in the olive oil while the food processor is running. While this does amalgamate the ingredients better like a vinaigrette, I prefer the pesto chunky.

I know toasting the pine nuts and garlic is also contributing to the heat in the kitchen but I prefer to toast the pine nuts because it increases their flavor. Since pine nuts are really expensive, it's nice to try to get as much flavor out of them as possible so that you can use a little less. I also prefer to saute the garlic. Hey the pan is dirty already. Sometimes raw garlic is just too strong and overpowers the other flavors.  By sauteing it, it mellows out a bit.

*Make sure you buy good quality pine nuts.  There is something called Pine Nut Syndrome. I first read about it on David Lebovitz's blog. Then one of the docs I worked with had the same problem. He had been eating some pignoli cookies and after that everything just tasted awful - it's a metallic taste.  It lasts for about a week. So be careful where you buy your pine nuts from.  Make sure that it is somewhere reputable. I just looked in Trader Joe's and they have the warning right on the label. So I passed on those pine nuts because I'm assuming that they were not from a reliable source if they have the warning on the label.  Also, they looked a little small to be pine nuts so I assumed they were the "fake" pine nuts.

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