Sunday, May 23, 2010
Spring Green Pesto
My sister's contribution to the cookbook project is her famously delicious Pesto Sauce. She has perfected this recipe and typically makes it using basil grown in her own potted garden—huge, prolific plants that reap the most amazing bright green leaves. And in the past, the making of the pesto has been an event, as she cautiously tweaks and hones the flavors until the perfect balance of basil, garlic, parmesan, and pine nuts emerges. One such pesto party was in her basement apartment in D.C., during the hot, sticky months of summer when her miniscule kitchen was sweltering. She had piles of her unbelievably fresh basil leaves and a block of parmesan transported from Zabar's in New York. The resulting concoction was the best I have ever tasted, no doubt enhanced by the relief of cool night air that descended on the patio where we ate and the sense of accomplishment that comes from making something so delicious from scratch. If nothing else, this cookbook project reinforces this feeling in me and keeps me going even when grabbing the processed package of Buotoni pesto at the market is quicker and easier.
I have to say my attempt was pretty good, despite the fact that I had to use store bought basil—sadly the basil in our Driveway Garden didn't make it—and I didn't use the parsley in the recipe. But poured over penne and topped with grilled shrimp, it was a delicious spring meal. Hopefully we'll get another round of basil planted in time for a nice summer pesto party in the tradition of my sister.
4-5 cups fresh basil leaves
5 tsp parsley leaves
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup pine nuts
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
approx. 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
In a food processor, pulse the leaves until finely chopped. Add about half the pine nuts, garlic, parmesan, and pine nuts gradually and blend. Then add a slow stream of olive oil into the blending processor until a nice thick consistency forms. Turn off processor and taste. Add remaining portions of ingredients until you get the "perfect balance" of flavors. Finish with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over pasta cooked pasta. Store in refrigerator "for weeks" with a film of olive oil on top.
Driveway Garden Update:
The garden seems to be doing pretty well, with two tomato plants growing like weeds with tons of yellow blooms and the beginnings of delicious tomatoes coming in everywhere. Looking forward to the day when I can make homemade tomato sauce with our homegrown beauties. We also have squash blossoms, peppers starting to pop out of their white blooms, and STRAWBERRIES! Olivia was so excited to pick the first one and eat it right off the plant. I guess two little plants are not going to mean the end of the packages I buy at the market every week, but it's still fun to see them grow in our own backyard (or should I say driveway).