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intro to pesto

Posted by on Aug 25, 2009 in Blog Posts | 2 comments

It’s green, it’s slimy, it’s got a strong taste. It’s pesto! I hadn’t made it for years, but wanted to make use of our bounty of basil- this as our beloved cherry tomatoes begin to sucomb to a yellowing blight…

I made some pesto, enlisted my almost 4 year old to help me pick the basil, measure the pine nuts etc. While making it, she made faces and said, “I’m not eating that.”
Those of you who are regular readers know my response…
“OK, can you put the olive oil in now? Doesn’t it smell good?”
Pesto (from America’s Test Kitchen)
prep time 15 minutes
2 cups packed basil
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup pine nuts (toasted)
1/2 cup olive oil
3 cloves of toasted garlic (leave the skin on, toast in a dry pan for about 5 minutes while brown spots form. Let cool then peal.)
Blenderize or food process until roughly smooth. Refrigerate for 3 days, or freezer up to a month.
I served M some plain rotini along with our salad and rotisserie chicken. M started eating the lettuce leaves last night, as well as the goodies. After about 10 minutes, she took a scoop of pesto pasta and said she loved it. She ate a few more bites, then moved on to her popsicle. I was pleased, but again showed no praise or reaction. It’s part of that neutral attitude to food. M seems to ask for praise when trying new foods (getting praise from strangers for eating a carrot primes the pump…) but we don’t take the bait. We might say, “I’m glad you like it, want to tell Daddy how we made it?”
I have to say, I really prefer pesto on a fresh crunchy loaf of white bread, but it was a success, and put a dent in our basil. We used to use jarred pesto on Boboli with a mix of goat and mozzarella for a quick dinner.
What quick things are you making from your garden bounty?
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  1. Harpy

    I forgot to add – putting a little coarse salt (sea salt, Celtic salt) into the mortar along with the other ingredients helps to crush everything up.

    You can also crush up mint and sugar with a little sweet oil such as almond or macadamia this way to make a sweet pesto that's good on ice cream. And mint is often one of those crops you have an unintended bounty of. 🙂

  2. Harpy

    A fun way for kids (or anyone really) to make pesto is to use a mortar and pestle. You get a different taste and texture to using a blender or processor, as when you pound the basil leaves, you "bruise" them and release the aromatics. There's a stronger scent and thus a different taste. You can note the colour of mechanically blended pesto is much lighter green than the pesto pounded by hand, something else it might be interesting for children to note, as well as the texture changes the more you pound.

    (You can get good big granite mortar and pestle sets for $20-30 these days, they're very useful.)

    I find adding a little fresh lemon juice to the pesto adds another taste dimension, as do different kinds of olive oils.