Food is Love, Love is Food.

A blog devoted to the connection between meals, memories and the special moments in our lives.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Instant Gratification: Quick Basil Pesto

When we were children, my mother would spend an entire late summer afternoon creating her version of basil pesto. This garlicky, nutty, salty paste just reeked of summer, and by making such large batches, my mother ensured that we would have it throughout the year.

 Later in the summer, I will take my large food processor, and make several great batches of pesto, enough to keep my family going over the winter. With my garden going strong, so many basil plants turning into small shrubs already, I feel that I will not have to ration it this winter, as I have in the past. When there is enough basil, pesto flavors not only pasta, but soups, meats, sauces, and vegetables throughout the whole winter, bringing a little of that fresh taste to remind us of the goodness of summer. It makes a winter tomato sauce taste rather sunny. It brings a depth of flavor to chicken soup, and spread on homemade bread, is just heavenly. But the summer has not been long enough for me yet. There is not enough basil to make the large batches. I do not feel the desire or the need to store the summer away in the freezer just yet either. For now, as I crave the intense basil flavor of pesto, I will make just a little handful of it, using different nuts to experiment. Late last week, I made a lovely pesto with some raw cashews, Romano cheese and of course, lots of garlic. I have a small food processor that I leave on my countertop, and it worked beautifully. I served the pesto on some long ribbons of zucchini and summer squash I made by using a vegetable peeler. I blanched the ribbons of squash for less than a minute, then tossed them with a good sized dollop of the fresh pesto, though I could seriously have just eaten the pesto with a spoon. For me, like summer, a quick little pesto sauce is about instant gratification.

A Quick Basil Pesto:

1 cup tightly packed basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Small handful of nuts (pignoli nuts are traditional, but I have used almonds, cashews, and walnuts with great results)
3-4 tbsp. pecorino romano cheese

In a small food processor, or a hand chopper, process the garlic, then add the basil and oil, and finally, the nuts and cheese. Add a little more oil if necessary in order to blend to a rough paste. Toss with pasta, vegetables, or use as a spread.

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