Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Daily Special: Pesto, Anyone?

Completely coincidentally, the day after my pasta post, I became the lucky recipient of this windfall.  Downtown Tucson is quite prolific is seems, as my Armory Park neighborhood provided me with some 20 lbs of Mexican limes two years ago.  No motorcycle was needed for its retrieval, as it was growing just a few minutes walk from my house.

Basil, Appellation Armory Park
Basil haul, with bonus zinnia! All for the cost of two tickets to Aida, which for me, means free!


And if you’re wondering what all that basil looks like after trimming and washing, wonder no longer:

Basil, Appellation Armory Park (2)

A pile of leaves practically worthy of jumping in.  Autumn under the Tucsonan Sun!

If you're wondering how long it took me to trim, wash, dry (and photograph) all this basil, I'll tell you.  About two acts of Aida. 

I made more than two quarts of pesto last night, which is now stashed in my freezer in little half cup portions.  Winter, I am ready for you!

Recipe (of sorts)
For each time I stuffed my food processor* with leaves, I added a good handful of ground toasted pine nuts,** several cloves of pureed garlic,*** several glugs of olive oil from the bottle (four?  five?), and a pinch of salt (not too much, since the cheese you’ll add later is salty.)  Blend, re-stuff the processor bowl and repeat.  When the bowl is nearly fully of spreadable green goodness, and you’re nearly drunk and from the heavenly scent of basil, add great handfuls of freshly grated parmesan (mixed with romano, if you have it, but if you don't, good heavens, don't let that stop you).  Taste it.  Adjust to your liking (although, honestly, I don’t think you can get this wrong, no matter what proportions you use).  I’ve heard of mashing in soft butter after the pesto is made.  I've never done it, but how could that be wrong?  Eat immediately, or put it in a container and float a thin film of oil over the top to keep it from turning brown.

I really was going to figure out actual quantities for you.  I really was. 

*Prior rant aside, the food processor does a good job in this instance.  Especially if you put the leaves in first, then all the “heavy” stuff on top of them.  But if I’m making just enough for one serving, I’ll revert back to my mortar and pestle.
**I do like the Italian ones better than the Chinese ones.  They’re a different species, I think, but they’re hard to find and harder to pay for.
***Four?  Six? I don’t know how many, since I puree several heads at a time and keep a block of garlic in my freezer. It’s easy to shave however much you need off the block with a sharp paring knife.  That's one of my strategies for quickly getting a decent dinner on the table, but still getting to work on time.


oboeadam said...

"If you're wondering how long it took me to trim, wash, dry (and photograph) all this basil, I'll tell you. About two acts of Aida."...

Just in time for the oboe solo. :D

Paula said...

But not quite to the part with the flute solo over the cello harmonics.

Claudia from Idiot's Kitchen said...

Your house must have smelled heavenly! Because I live in weird Florida, I just replanted all of my herbs for winter. I still can't get used to no basil in the summer (or very little) and not a good tomato in sight.