Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pesto Pesto Pesto

chive pesto

My goal for the day was to finish a short story that has been languishing in its nascent stages for months now. I’m so fond of the beginning that I’m afraid I’m going to screw up the end. So I did some necessary research and then abandoned the story for the pile of herbs beckoning from the kitchen counter, which were also languishing but will not keep until tomorrow. Some sprigs of arugula, piles of basil, an armload of chives, and some garlic that must also be used to make way for this year’s harvest- what else was there to do but make pesto?

The following recipe is made to my own taste- I love garlic, am allergic to most nuts and dislike the rest, adore cheese, and put fresh ground pepper in almost everything savory (I’ve even tried a grind or two of pepper to a chocolate dish). The arugula leaves I used were from plants that had gone to seed, too tired and haggard for a salad but once whirred up they looked just fine.

Garlicky Arugula and Two Basil Pesto

1 cup packed arugula leaves with stemmy bits removed
2 cups packed sweet basil leaves
1 cup packed spicy globe basil leaves
5 cloves of minced garlic
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup coarsely chopped Pecorino Romano cheese (I’d use parmesan too if I could afford it.)
Salt and pepper to taste (I added just a pinch of salt and three or four grinds of pepper).

arugula basil pesto

Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until all ingredients are finely chopped and well incorporated, pausing once or twice to scrape the sides of the bowl and test for desired consistency (I like my pesto pretty finely chopped but you may prefer a rougher texture). Add a drizzle or two more olive oil if it is too thick for you. This is when I taste to see if any salt is needed.

Garlic Chive Pesto

Same as above substituting 5 cups of coarsely chopped chives for the basil and arugula. You might want to cut down a bit on the garlic as the chives have enough kick on their own.

A note about nuts- as stated above I don’t use them but I’ve heard from people that do that pistachios (1/2 cup or so shelled) are quite tasty in the chive pesto. Pine nuts are, of course, traditional but walnuts or cashews are lower cost alternatives.

This recipe makes a thick pesto ideal for tossing with pasta, putting on pizza, and spreading on bread, crackers, or vine ripe tomatoes. Well covered it stores in the refrigerator for about a week. The basil pesto can also be frozen in sealed plastic baggies with the all the air removed. Frozen it keeps for several months.

basil arugula pesto

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