Saturday, December 6, 2008
To me, pesto is sort of an acquired taste. It's strong, but it's so good. I've tried the Trader Joe's bottled version and maybe even a couple other ones, but you just can't beat fresh. And, you can't beat yanking the basil out of your garden- rather than buying a box of it at the store. Organic or not, still with dirt on it or not, store bought basil isn't as fresh as the stuff from your backyard. Here's an easy pesto that's good on pasta or pizza or whatever.
2 Cups fresh basil. Lay it out on a cutting board and lay a moist papertowel over it. Pound it with the back of a knife to bruise and release flavor.
1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts and walnuts. Use your imagination with the proportions, but the last one I did had about 80% pine nuts and 20% walnuts. Put them all in a dry pan with low-med heat...toast until fragrant, but DO NOT BURN. Stir/shake constantly. Take out and set aside.
Take 5 large cloves of garlic still in sleeves and toast on dry pan. Take out, cool, remove skins, and coarsely chop.
Take out your processor and push in the basil. Add the toasted (cooled first) nuts on top. Drop 1/4 olive oil. Add your toasted garlic. Process until smooth.
Scoop out into a bowl. Grate 1/4 of fresh parmesan cheese over the top. Add fresh cracked pepper. Add kosher salt to taste. Stir it all.
Now this is the important part...too many people just plop their pesto (or sauce or whatever) with whatever amount of pasta they've cooked. They just don't care about finding the right consistency.
Cook your pasta according to instructions. Be sure to choose a pasta that will capture as much of the pesto as possible, like a spiral or bowtie. Drain.
Add your pasta to your pesto until it's covered to the right consistency. Don't add too much or too little pasta.
Separate into bowls add a bit more kosher salt on top for taste [Note: Why I Use Kosher Salt] , and if you like a little spice, add some crushed red pepper.