Sunday, March 21, 2010

By Request--Pesto without a processor

A while back Beki asked, "When are you going to make pesto?"

Time to start researching. Over at the Food Network, there was this one and this one which both called for a food processor. Not what I wanted. You may recall that my search for a blender with a food processing attachment at the local mall resulted in a plain blender.

Then I found How to Make Pesto like an Italian Grandmother. Let me hear you say, "Bingo!" How could I turn away from this one? I used to live across the street from an elderly Italian couple, and Mrs. Patrica liked to feed us. The trick was to go over there when you were totally starving, and if you protested, "No, Linda, I'm not hungry," for about a half an hour, the food would come at a (slightly) slower pace. It was from her that I learned how to make tomato sauce. She threw in pork chops and started simmering. When the meat fell off the bone, it was ready to serve.

But anyway. Another nice thing about the above link is it gave me an excuse to buy more kitchen toys. After some shopping around, I found

My sweetie was the one that turned me on to Wusthof knives, and the price on this one is a steal.

Some folks out there think pesto is pretty complicated, but it really isn't. One of my favorite type of recipe is that which tastes like it took hours to cook, but really was only a few minutes.

1 large bunch of basil, leaves only, washed and dried I plucked and washed about an hour before I started chopping, laying the leaves on a layer of paper towels, then blotting them with another layer.
3 medium cloves of garlic I shoulda listened, but by now you know that I can't leave a recipe alone. I used four large. My suggestion--start with the three and taste as you go along.
one small handful of raw pine nuts I have pretty small hands, but this turned out to be too much. I am guessing my hand holds about a quarter cup. Next time, I plan to reduce that and use about three tablespoons.
roughly 3/4 cup Parmesan, loosely packed and FRESHLY GRATED'nuff said
A few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil I used more than few to bring it all together.

Start chopping the garlic along with about 1/3 of the basil leaves. Once this is loosely chopped add more basil, chop some more, add the rest of the basil, chop some more. I scrape and chop, gather and chop. At this point the basil and garlic should be a very fine mince. Add about half the pine nuts, chop. Add the rest of the pine nuts, chop. Add half of the Parmesan, chop. Add the rest of the Parmesan, and chop.
I love this method, I really do. It takes a lot of the tedium out of simply chopping, I really felt I was making something instead of just prepping ingredients.

I did toast my pine nuts with a little olive oil first. I just happen to like the taste better. My sweetie mentioned that he appreciated it.

The knife and board worked like a dream. When the bowl of the board got too full, I emptied the pesto into a small bowl, and mixed in the FRESHLY GRATED (just had to do that) parmesan.

It took me a little longer than the half hour described, but in the end, I had a garlicky basil pesto. Like I said, shoulda listened. I also should have tasted more as I went along.

I tossed my concoction, after adding olive oil, with some basil and garlic linguine, and served it alongside a nice piece of steak, and a salad of baby romaine leaves, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basalmic.

In the end, I thought it was too garlicky. My test audience says there is no such thing as too much garlic, but on later reflection, thought there could be a few less pine nuts and a little more cheese. I'll be visiting pesto again in a month or so.

Have a recipe you want me to try? Questions? Comments? Let me hear from you!

1 comment:

  1. Another good thing to add is about a quarter-pound of sautéed liver--pig's or lamb's is best, calves' only if you're cornered. Sauté the liver, chop it coarsely, then dump it into the food processor and give it a couple of pulses. You want to end up with a fine mince that still has some texture left to it. Then fold it into the pesto, and serve.

    The other ingredients in the pesto tone down the liver's whang. I've served it to confirmed "I won't eat ANYTHING with liver in it!" liver haters, and been asked "This has liver in it? Really? Could I have seconds?"