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Posts Tagged ‘how to make pesto’

We’ve been on a pesto kick this week, thanks in part to one stubborn little plant.

About six weeks ago, I brought a couple of basil bunches to the office, thinking that somebody would take it off my hands. Nope. So there it sat, lingering in a vase of water (which I was changing, mind you, every couple of days), developing roots and growing 10 inches while providing the occasional handful of fresh basil leaves for lunchtime salads.

I finally asked myself, how long can I really keep growing basil in a vase of water?

Turns out I should have transplanted it into soil about four weeks ago, and I’ve been risking root rot this whole time.

Since Dennison’s Farm brings me an absurd amount of basil in my CSA box every couple of weeks, I wasn’t planning to plant my own this year. So I took this brave plant home and whirled it into oblivion last night with the other requisite ingredients. It made a divine accompaniment to wine-and-cheese night at Chez Haggerty.

And you know what? I STILL didn’t manage to use all of the leaves. This little plant might end up transplanted into the ground yet due to its sheer will to live.

I halved a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, since I only wanted enough for two people, and it made probably a little under 1/2 cup.

Pesto
(Recipe courtesy of Cook’s Illustrated)

  • 1/8 cup pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 cup basil leaves, packed
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 ounce (1/8 cup) grated Parmesan cheese (see note at end of recipe)

Toast pine nuts and unpeeled garlic cloves in a small dry skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the pine nuts are just golden and fragrant and the garlic cloves have darkened slightly, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the garlic to cool before peeling and roughly chopping.

Place nuts, garlic, basil, oil and salt in small work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Process until smooth, stopping as necessary to scrap down sides of bowl, about 30 seconds.

Note: I’ve been grating and shredding my own cheese lately instead of purchasing grated/shredded cheeses, which contain ingredients like cellulose to prevent clumping. I had read that the added ingredients can keep pre-shredded cheese from melting as well as freshly shredded cheese, and it’s true. The texture and the flavor of freshly shredded cheese is simply superior to that of the pre-shredded varieties. And Parmesan, stored correctly, will keep for WEEKS. Totally worth it.

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