Friday, June 14, 2013

Bucking Convention: Pesto


Today I'd like to talk about a food (perhaps more accurately a condiment?) known as pesto. It's an extremely polarizing, if innocuous, little green sauce that people seem to either love or hate. And when people hate it and I try to proclaim its virtues, they always give me this look:

"Ain't no such thing as good pesto."

Well, STANLEY, maybe you've never had good pesto, but I challenge you to try just one more! It's not your usual pesto because it's missing one key ingredient! Aren't you curious about what that is?


I guess not, because you're Stanley. But please, please just hear me out! This pesto doesn't have any BASIL and goes easy on the oil!


Do I have your attention yet? This pesto substitutes basil with Italian flat leaf parsley and adds oil as-needed! It gives it a strong flavor and lightens it up a lot, which are my two main complaints with pesto: first, it's often bland, second, it's usually just a little basil in a swimming pool of oil. Gross. 

Basil-lovers fear not--I'm not decrying basil as pesto. This version though will please everyone, and it's more cost effective too since it calls for walnuts, not pine nuts, to give it body and balance the parsley. The original recipe did call to toast the walnuts, but I think it hardly makes a difference! 

Parsley Parmesan Pesto


2 cups very tightly packed leaves of Italian flat leaf parsley
3/4 cups chopped walnuts
1/2-3/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese
3-4 large cloves of garlic (to taste)
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup of oil, adding more as needed

Put all ingredients except the oil in a food processor with a metal blade and pulse until combined, then add oil in a slow stream. Once combined, dip your spoon in for taste and consistency. Add more oil as needed, balancing with lemon and salt. Serve right away or freeze for up to 3 months. Delicious.

Before oil

After oil and processing. Yes, I love garlic.

What can you make with this yummy, scrumptious, lovely pesto? Here are a couple of ideas:

Shrimp, bell pepper, red onion, pesto pizza (crust from Trader Joe's for $1--about 4-5x what you see here)

Pesto Parmesan bowtie pasta. Mmmm, paaasta.

Unfortunately, I don't have the picture of the pasta I made on New Year's, which included turkey pesto meatballs, but en bref: mix pesto into raw turkey meat, add salt, and mix together with spatula and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 min).

If you give this pesto a try, let me know what you think of it versus regular pesto. I have never tried to make my own basil-based pesto, but I will say that for flavor and consistency I love Classico's pesto:

Classico Traditional Basil Pesto
Surprisingly, made by Heinz.

That's all for now folks. Hopefully I've given you some incentive to try a new form of pesto. Hopefully with Stanley, who is now headed straight home to make this pesto. Happy eating!


No comments:

Post a Comment