Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It's PESTO time again!

For the past two years my backyard vegetable garden just hasn't yielded as well as I would have liked but after a rough start, and a few additional plantings, my basil finally took!

There's nothing better than pulling something from your own yard and creating dinner with it the same night.  If you haven't made pesto before, just know that it's really easy.  Here's how I do it.

First.  Pick enough Basil so that when you pluck off the leaves, you will fill your food processor above the level of the blade. 

Peel some garlic cloves.  A typical amount might be 2 - 3 cloves but I LOVE garlic and there can never be too much in my estimation - so I use a lot.

You can rough chop the garlic first but my processor does a good enough job with the cloves left whole.  Toss them in with the basil leaves and put the top on the processor.  Begin to blend the two ingredients.  As soon as they are partially broken down, begin to drizzle in some olive oil through the processor's pour hole.

Don't add too much, just enough to give a glossy sheen to the mixture.  As you continue to blend the ingredients the green will turn brighter, lighter and somewhat milkier looking.

YUM!  This looks just perfect to me.  At this point some people add in pine nuts and parmesean cheese (already finely grated).  However, I like to add the last two ingredients to my dish when I serve the food.  If there will be leftover PESTO, and if it needs to be heated, the heating process makes the cheese kind of gummy when it's already in the mixture.  Sometimes I do like to grind up the pine nuts in the mixture for a thicker, nuttier paste.

I like to add my pesto at room temperature to steaming hot pasta.  I prefer not to heat the pesto itself.  After adding the pesto to the pasta, toss it.  You shouldn't have thick green gobs, just use enough that it looks as if you have green-tinged pasta with basil flecks in it.

In my household, we also like to serve a red tomato sauce (I make a lovely homemade version learned from my Italian mother-in-law, Adele). 

My favorite preparation - tomato sauce in the bottom of the bowl.  Pasta on top of that, pesto over the pasta and slightly agitated with a fork to mix it around.  Then, a sprinkle of grated parmesean cheese and a spattering of toasted pine nuts on the top.  Add a few pieces of homemade garlic bread on the side, a big glass of red wine and dinner is served!

In the summer, we go lazy buffet style right off of the kitchen table.

Happy Dinner - PS... find someone else to wash the dishes and clean the kitchen and settle somewhere comfy to finish your wine!

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