Monday, September 10, 2012

Presto Pesto!

I have a terrible weakness, ok fine...I have many. But, one of my most crippling is the search for really great Pesto. I try Pesto dishes whenever I can at restaurants, hoping that they've gotten it right. Some have and some haven't. So, the easiest way for me to satisfy my hunger for the Perfect Pesto is to make my own.

This weekend I harvested our Basil plant and proceeded to turn it into amazing MAGIC! Now, let me first say that I don't use a recipe for this. A good Pesto "recipe" is all about feel and consistency. Some people prefer a wetter Pesto, some a dryer. I fall into the latter. I will walk you through my process.

Fresh from the garden...Thanks Hubby!

Granted, I should have harvested this Basil two weeks ago in it's prime, but my schedule just didn't allow for it. Still, it worked just fine. One should always start with very fresh green Basil when making Pesto. That being said, I have whipped up some passable Pesto in the past (wow alliteration!) using some high quality dried basil, but I certainly don't recommend that...except in the case of Zombie Apocalypse. 

Now, lets talk nuts. I use Pine Nuts, but there are folks that say that Walnuts work just fine...I don't agree with them, but they are entitled to their opinion. For me, Pine Nuts impart an unusual flavor your just can't get from the namby pamby Walnut. Save your Walnuts for cookies people!

Toasting is touchy!

When toasting Pine Nuts, you have to be paying attention. Pine Nuts go from browned to black in like 3 seconds! These took about 10 minutes on low heat and I was constantly flipping them around in the pan. I used just slightly over a 1/3rd of a cup pretty much because that is how many were in the bag.

Garlic! It's one of the main ingredients of Pesto and I like a lot of it!

Heaven in a hard to peel container.

I used 4 cloves of garlic for my Pesto. I was going to go for 6 cloves, but I got tired of peeling it. OK, so once you have assembled everything, you throw it all into your food processor.

About to be pulverized!

Here it is. My Basil, the Garlic, the Pine Nuts, Parmesan Cheese, and a dash of salt and pepper. Heck, I could eat is as a salad just like this. I pulse this about a dozen times in the food processor just to get everything chopped up and saying, "Hi" to everyone. Then, with the food processor on high, I begin to very slowly drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil into the mix. 

You want to keep an eye on this step. Too much EVOO and you wind up with really runny Pesto, which...if you like it that way, go for it. I prefer a dryer Pesto so I add just enough to incorporate the ingredients.

Once processed it looks pretty much like this.

Heaven in a Food Processor!

This was still a little lumpy for my tastes, so I processed it for a bit longer on high giving the blade time to cut it down even further. Here is my final result.

Just looking for some fresh pasta to mate with!
So, even after all of my careful oil pouring this turned out a little runnier than I prefer it. No problem, I just added some extra Parm to it. The cheese absorbed the oil perfectly.

Now comes the hard part. What to pair it with? Pasta? Chicken? Pork? Spread it on a piece of bread and be done? Eat it by the spoonful right out of the food processor??? That is the great thing about Pesto, you can do ANYTHING with it. I have opted this evening to coat a chicken breast in it and bake it. Nummy!

What so you like to do with Pesto? Sound off in the comments.

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