Thursday, June 13, 2013

Pesto Recipes

Pesto is a delicious and versatile way to pack in tons of greens in one meal. You can make it with all kinds of greens and fresh herbs, you can use pine nuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts or no nuts. You can go vegan, and omit the cheese. Make a big batch during the summer, and freeze it for a lovely hit of green in the dead of winter.  Here are some recipes, but feel free to experiment

Basil Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves (no stems), packed
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds)
½ cup grated parmesan or romano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

This can be made quickly with a blender or food processor, and it can also be made into a chunky pesto by hand with a lot of chopping.  Combine basil, nuts and garlic in the blender.  Add the olive oil until blended and then add the romano cheese in small pieces.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 
Serving: Add this pesto to cooked pasta, cooked potatoes, spread it on a sandwich, or use it on pizza. 
Freezing: If you want to freeze the pesto you make, omit the cheese (it doesn't freeze well). Line an ice cube tray with plastic wrap, and fill each pocket with the pesto. Freeze and then remove from the ice tray and store in a freezer bag. When you want to use, defrost and add in grated Parmesan or Romano.

Kale Pesto

1 cup fresh kale leaves, chopped
2 garlic cloves
2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¾ cup olive oil
freshly ground pepper

Combine kale, garlic, cheese and sunflower seeds in a blender or food processor, and blend. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil. Season to taste with salt an pepper, process to desired texture. Enjoy over pasta, on toast, in scrambled eggs…etc.

Arugula Pesto

2 cups of packed arugula leaves, stems removed
1/2 cup of shelled walnuts
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 garlic clove peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon salt

Brown 6 garlic cloves with their peels on in a skillet over medium high heat until the garlic is lightly browned in places, about 10 minutes. Remove the garlic from the pan, cool, and remove the skins.
Toast the nuts in a pan over medium heat until lightly brown, or heat in a microwave on high heat for a minute or two until you get that roasted flavor. In our microwave it takes 2 minutes.
 Food processor method (the fast way): Combine the arugula, salt, walnuts, roasted and raw garlic into a food processor. Pulse while drizzling the olive oil into the processor. Remove the mixture from the processor and put it into a bowl. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.
Mortar and pestle method: Combine the nuts, salt and garlic in a mortar. With the pestle, grind until smooth. Add the cheese and olive oil, grind again until smooth. Finely chop the arugula and add it to the mortar. Grind up with the other ingredients until smooth.
Because the pesto is so dependent on the individual ingredients, and the strength of the ingredients depends on the season or variety, test it and add more of the ingredients to taste.
Serve with pasta, over freshly roasted potatoes, or as a sauce for pizza.
Yield: Makes 1 heaping cup.

Dandelion Pesto
Yield: 3-1/2 cups
2 cups tightly packed dandelion leaves, well-rinsed and dried (harvest the small, young leaves, before the plant flowers)
1 dozen large basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
1 cup lightly toasted hazelnuts (skins removed), or toasted almonds, pine nuts, or walnuts
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 In the bowl of a food processor or blender, pulse together dandelion leaves, basil, garlic, and nuts. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the motor running, add olive oil and process until a smooth paste forms. Pulse in cheese if you like. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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