Today I stayed home and rested and made pesto and rosemary bread.
One neat thing about making pesto is that it takes about the same amount of time to make as it does to boil water and cook pasta. Hey, I take what wonder I can get in life.
Use as good of parmesan as you can. I buy these big blocks of Italian 2 year aged from Sam’s. When I use pesto I am usually skipping meat, so to spend money on good cheese works out budget wise or at least that’s what I tell myself.
You have to grate it first. Trust me, the chopper blade – even on a good processor, cannot handle aged parmesan – it is hard as can be and will nick your blade (ask me how I know this). So grate it first with the grater blade, even though you will also turn around and switch blades and chop it.
Then turn the processor on and add 2-3 cloves of garlic.
Here’s the part where it gets interesting.
Instead of just adding several cups of basil, I add blanched asparagus. About half a bunch. (To blanch: wash it, chop it and microwave in water for 5 minutes, drain, use the other half for couscous or whatever the next day)
And I add a handful of basil and a handful of spinach too. And then walnuts. (You can use pine nuts – but they are expensive. I’ve been thinking about trying with pecans)
Taste it. It will need salt, you will be tempted to add more cheese, while parmesan is nice and salty, don’t waste your fancy cheese to make it saltier – just add some salt and some pepper. When it tastes right, then run the machine and pour in some olive oil. I keep my pesto pretty concentrated and then just add more olive oil when I’m using it, or some of the pasta cooking water if I’m feeling like cutting down on fat. I see recipes with like cups and cups of olive oil – I probably use 1/4 cup or so. So this is very very rich and thick.
I’m not giving exact ratios here – because I sort of eye ball it and I’m not convinced it matters that much. If I had to I would say 1/2 C parmesan, 1/2 cup walnuts, 2 C veggies + Basil and 1/4 C olive oil. Something like that.
Things to do with pesto:
- mix 1/4 C over 1/2 lb of pasta.
- Use it as a layer in lasagna.
- Use it instead of sauce on pizza.
- Tell you kids it is dip and let them eat it with chips.
- Freeze it into little blocks and give it to your friend Kimberly when she has a baby as an easy meal.
- Put it on rosemary bread