Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pesto - pronto!

Handy little containers of pesto in your freezer
 Right now is the height of the growing season for all things edible. The stalls at the Saturday organic market are brimming with all kinds of wonderful fruits and vegetables. Since there is a limit to how much we can eat, the thought of preserving some of the foods comes up. Canning, of course, is the most efficient way, however few are inclined to go though the efforts of doing so. Drying is a good way to save some items, especially fruits. Freezing is not much an option; except there is a terrific way of saving the flavor of basil for a long timemake pesto and freeze it. There is no cooking involved; all you need to do is switch on your food processor and pesto! There are many herbal pastes now calling themselves pesto but the original version is from Genoa in Italy. It is traditionally made in a mortar with a pestle, from which the sauce’s name is derived. The ingredients are basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese and olive oil, that’s it. Store your pesto in small containers, enough to have an instant seasoning for pasta, grilled vegetables, meats, seafood, sandwiches (mix it with mayo) or when extended with oil and vinegar you get a great salad dressing. Walnuts can be substituted for the pine nuts; in case of allergies you can leave out the nuts and still have a great sauce. The garlic, cheese and olive oil you can also buy right at the market with your basil. The pine nuts and handy containers you find at Bonanza. ¡Buen provecho!

6 1/2 cups         basil leaves, packed
3/4 cup             Parmesan (or pecorino), cut into chunks
6 tbsp.              extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp.               pine nuts, lightly toasted
3 cloves            garlic, minced 
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
Place the chunks of cheese in your food processor and pulse until it looks like grated. Remove it and set aside. Then place basil leaves, half of the olive oil, pine nuts and garlic in the food processor and pulse until you have a fine paste. Drizzle in the rest of the olive oil while the processor is running. Scrape down sides of the processor container, then add the grated cheese and pulse a few times. You should have a smooth paste by now, if not add more olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

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