Saturday, June 27, 2009

Besto Pesto

There's nothing better than slices of a baguette with mounds of pesto when it's storming outside. I grabbed the basil from the side of the house just before the storm clouds opened up, the air ripe with sticky humidity. Now, is there anything better than a summer thunderstorm, wine, and good Medi food? And no wonder Italians are so sensual. We ate everything with our hands with olive oil dripping down our fingers. The pesto was fragrant and potent, with punches of garlic and sweet basil. Pesto is traditionally made with pine nuts, but toasted almonds or walnuts make suitable (and slightly more affordable) substitutions. Also, pesto purists swear by using only Parmesan-Reggiano cheese. Being a Romano lover, I had some of that on hand, and used it. Came out beautifully.

Basic Pesto
  • 2 cups packed basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 medium-large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Toast pine nuts on a skillet over medium heat until they are fragrant and golden, about five minutes. Place them in a food processor with the basil. Pulse several times. Now add you garlic and pulse a few more times. Slowly add the olive oil (with the processor on). Lastly, add your cheese and pulse a few moments longer. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Makes a cup.

We enjoyed our pesto on a baguette, with other savory options (marinated artichoke hearts, marinated mushrooms, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes). Matthew made it a point to put all of these on one baguette slice. I tried to argue about the purity of flavors, and how they were competing, but it was hopeless. His baguette slices were no less than 2" tall. He also wanted me to add that we used three large garlic cloves. I thought this was rather much, and changed the amount to two, above. He disagrees, so if you like your garlic overpowering, potent, and bad-breath inducing, please go ahead. We still loved it.

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