Thursday, August 23, 2012

Presto Pesto!

Pesto isn't hard to make.

I had it in my head that it was, for some reason, until I finally tried it.  It just takes a few minutes!  I'd been meaning to makes some with almonds, instead of pine nuts for 2 reasons: (1) pine nuts are expensive, yo! and (2) I had a big bag of almonds from Costco that we haven't attacked with as much gusto as I thought we would.  We had some bad luck with basil this year, and I scrounged up enough for a packed 1/2 cup, but not a whole.  Shoot!  Then I saw a recipe that combined parsley and basil - problem solved!  Here's what I did, and another recipe with just basil, in case your crop fared better.

I plan to toss some angel hair pasta with pesto and some little grape or Sun Gold tomatoes from the garden, and toss in whatever else makes sense from the fridge or garden, and maybe throw on some grilled chicken strips or something for dinner tomorrow.  I'll also do some little toasts and spread them with the fresh pesto  and spoon on a little bruschetta topping (also from those great little tomatoes that keep on coming from the garden).   Feel free to share your favorite pesto uses in the comments!

Basil-Parsley Pesto
1/2 c. basil leaves, packed
1/2 c. parsley leaves, packed
1/2 c. whole almonds, toasted*
2-3 garlic cloves
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp. feta cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
a squirt of fresh lemon juice if you want

Here's the best part - just throw everything but the olive oil into the food processor bowl, pulse until it's finely ground, and then stream in the olive oil until you get a nice, creamy consistency.  You might need to scrape down the slides of the bowl once or twice to make sure everything is combined.  Makes about a cup of pesto. Keep it covered in the fridge, or freeze in cubes (use an ice cube tray for neat little portions) to use as needed.

*Throw the almonds on a pan in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes, until they start to brown - shaking the pan occasionally (every 5 minutes or so), so they don't get too brown.  You'll smell the difference.  You can do then before making almond butter, too, to add a little depth of flavor.

Basil-Almond Pesto
1 c. fresh basil leaves, packed
1/4 c. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 c. toasted almonds
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until thoroughly combined.  Store covered, in the refrigerator or freeze.

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