Sunday, October 5, 2008

Of Pesto and Pestles

My basil plants have done very well this year, so I've made multiple batches of pesto for the freezer.

Pesto is just about the easiest thing to make. If you have a food processor, that is. Although I was at the gym recently, watching the Food Channel*, and saw an Italian guy make some amazing-looking pesto by hand with a HUGE mortar and pestle. It went quickly for him, but it would have taken me all day to get that stuff ground. Bopping around the internet, I learned that chopping is considered an inferior way of making pesto. Apparently the flavors only release properly when the basil leaves are crushed - in a marble mortar with a wooden pestle no less - rather than cut, as happens in a food processor. (see references here, here, and here)

Sigh. I am so not a foodie. I like my food processor pesto. And it's easy.

I used a mini processor for years, working in small batches if I were making a lot of pesto. The full-size food processor made a whole batch in seconds. Literally.

Here's my recipe, although it's fairly standard:

Basil Pesto
3 medium garlic cloves
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 tsp salt
2 cups of packed basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup shredded or grated parmesan cheese

1. Process the garlic, pine nuts and salt until roughly chopped.
2. Add the basil and process until chopped but not totally smooth
3. Add the olive oil and process until incorporated.
4. Add the cheese and process briefly.

note: If you are freezing the pesto, omit the cheese, and add it later when you are getting ready to serve. I've read that the cheese doesn't freeze as well as the other ingredients. I always add a reminder on the freezer package, or I would forget all about adding the cheese when I take it out of the freezer.

Here's the pesto, with the cheese added, all ready to be tossed with pasta:

*I know I can't be the only one who watches the Food Channel while exercising on the elliptical machine. It does get a little surreal when Paula Deen is on...


spike. said...

I use the food processor too, sometimes you need a little speed

Audrey said...

Often it's the non-foodies among us who make (and eat) the best food!

Anne said...

I totally watch cooking shows while exercising! I'm always drooling and thinking about what to make later and it almost always contradicts my other goals! :) Oh well!

I use my FP for pesto, too, though it looks so earthy with the mortar and pestle. I love the tips about freezing it and keeping the cheese out- I'll try that when summer ends here. :)