Friday, October 3, 2008

The Incredibly Versatile Pesto











I like to have a taste of Summer all year long. I am fortunate enough to live in a house with a garden so I have the ability to pick fresh peaches off the tree every August, eat tomatoes off the vine and have fresh herbs from Spring to late Fall.

I can and freeze in order to preserve those brilliant tastes into the bleak winter months. Pesto can be a brilliant burst of flavor that can push even a cold February night away.

There is no one pesto, there are as many recipes as there are Italian women. All of them are good.

Some favor the burst of basil, others are heavy on the garlic, some much more cheesier. There is nothing wrong with any of them. Play, taste, and adjust until it is perfect for you.

In various combinations
Basil
Olive Oil
Cheese
Nuts
Garlic

Pine nuts are traditional, but almonds can be delicious as can walnuts. You can add sun dried tomato, a splash of lemon juice, a hot pepper to give it a boost, but always use a good quality olive oil. Flat olive oil can bring down even the best ingredients.

You can even leave out the basil and make a pesto with Tarragon or Sage. Sage Pesto is great for pastas like gnocchi, and Pumpkin or Mushroom Ravioli. For those of you who have never made a Sage Pesto I include the recipe, but feel free to change it. Play with your food.

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 2 cups fresh sage leaves, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves (or Tarragon, or basil, they both blend well)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 head of garlic peeled
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of one lime
Put it in the food processor or blender until it is creamy. Freezes beautifully and in addition to working wonderfully with pasta it is also a great rub for Poultry or Pork. Try rubbing under the skin of a chicken, salt the skin and let rest in the refrigerator on a rack for 24 hours. Rub the skin with olive oil and roast.

If you do not have a garden of your own hit the Farmer's market this weekend. They still have herbs along with the last of the summer vegetables and the first apples of the season.

1 comment:

Katie said...

I now will be making pesto all weekend long. I need to use up all my basil before it goes bad. Thanks for making my stomach growl.