Sunday, August 23, 2009

Basil Pesto (Pesto Genovese)

I went to visit my Nonna today and she has basil growing rampant all around her backyard. I asked her if I could take a big bunch to make pesto and she gave me a LOT. Using the recipe from my favorite big green book (How to Cook Everything Vegetarian) I made a triple batch.

First, I made a double batch. It was so easy - just throw everything in the food processor and go, adding a little more oil when you take off the top to scrape down the sides. I used this double batch to freeze in an ice cube tray. I have read this trick somewhere to make individual servings of pasta with pesto. I think one or two cubes would do the trick. When they are fully frozen, I will pop them out of the tray and just toss them in a plastic bag. I might wrap them individually but if they are already frozen they probably won't stick together anyway.

One thing to remember is that you need to add Parmesan when using the pesto. I have heard that it doesn't freeze well, so I guess the best thing to do would just be to stir it in when you defrost it. I stirred it in to the batch I made for the pasta but didn't realize I would have a little left over. The recipe says to only stir it in when you are about to use it, but I will have to see how it keeps in the fridge. Another thing I might try doing differently next time I make pesto is to toast the pine nuts. The recipe didn't call for it and I wanted to just stick to it this time, but I think toasting them might bring out the flavor more and add more dimension to the pesto.

When I was done with this I still had more basil left, and it was about enough for another single batch. Ken suggested we have it with the whole wheat pasta we picked up this weekend. I don't remember if I've ever had true whole wheat pasta, but I have heard that it is substantially different from traditional pasta.

The whole wheat pasta with pesto turned out pretty yummy. Whole wheat pasta is definitely a different texture and feel from traditional pasta, so get some olive oil or something in there ASAP after straining. It was a little thicker and denser, but was very good with the pesto. I definitely want to try the whole wheat pasta with the Rustic Pine Nut Sauce - but back to the pesto... I would definitely have it again as a quick, easy, last-minute kind of meal. There is a good amount of olive oil in there though, plus the Parmesan, so don't go overboard with it. I would also like to try it for other uses than just pasta, but not much comes to mind right now. If you have any suggestions please let me know!

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