Sunday, August 15, 2010
Inspiration for Pesto
Often, our inspiration comes from familiar sources, cookbooks, magazines.
Sometimes, from the things that need to be consumed fast, or they'll rot.
Growing my own herbs provides the biggest inspiration of all. I tuck my herbs anywhere I can. Here, basil sits at one end of my lemon tree, not on the other, tiny arugula shoots.
Take a snip of fresh thyme, or oregano and rub it in your hands, smell its pungency, its specific oils. The heady aroma will send you to the kitchen to whip up something delectable.
Today, it will be pesto sauce.
I know you can buy basil in the supermarket, in cellophane, a handful of leaves at a time, so go ahead, plunge in this experiment.
For this recipe, you'll need two big bouquets of basil. One to make pesto for today. The other, to keep on hand to inspire you to make something else tomorrow. Here are the simplest instructions for pesto. Don't panic about the amounts of each ingredient. I tend not to measure at all.
After I taste, I end up adding this or that.
1. A bunch of basil leaves, about two handfuls. (If you save the stem(s), with just a couple of baby leaves at the top, and put these in water, they will grow roots, and in turn can be planted to give you basil plants!)
2. 1/2 cup of pine nuts, or walnuts
3. 1C of olive oil
4. 1C of parmesan cheese
5. 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
6. one small pinch of salt and pepper, if needed
In a mixer, start with garlic, basil , nuts, and half of olive oil. Pulsate until everything is a smooth paste, add more olive oil, a bit at a time. Begin to add the cheese, a bit at a time. Taste after half the cheese has been mixed in. Add more cheese to make a thick, but still runny sauce. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. The cheese will add salt, so you may not need to add any salt at all.
This sauce will freeze well. One recipe will dress enough pasta for four people.
Enjoy on any type of pasta, hot or cold.