Monday, March 24, 2008

Pesto! Presto!

You have a recipe that calls for nothing more than oh, say, about three fresh basil leaves. We all know short of secretly plucking basil leaves from a bunch in the fresh produce section of the supermarket, you will be stuck with lots of fresh basil leaves in the ref after the last billow of smoke from what you cooked dissipated.

If you were like me, you wouldn't want those fragrant greens go to waste. So what do we do with left-over basil leaves? Make pesto, of course. Pesto is a versatile sauce you can use on pasta, bread, and just about anything you can think would work, plus it's quick and easy to make. Just mix everything up, put it in a jar (any container really), store it in the fridge or the freezer (in the latter case you may want to use a plastic container, or an ice tray), and use it whenever you need it. Here at My Food Notebook, we're all about improvising and not letting good food go to waste. So we are happy with pesto.

There's a lot of pesto recipes online you could choose from. Including mine(!) So you can't go wrong with this. Just pick one that works for you. I use a hand blender to make my pesto because that's what I have but you can use any regular blender, a food processor, or a mortar and pestle, just like how it was traditionally made. Pesto normally calls for parmesan cheese but I didn't add parmesan cheese because I didn't have any at the moment, and I figured, it's easy to mix the cheese in later when it's time to use it. (Plus, maybe, that helps to keep the pesto longer?)

Food Notebook's Pesto

Ingredients:

1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh basil leaves, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup walnuts
pinch of salt and pepper, to taste

Procedure:

Using a hand blender, pulse together garlic, basil leaves, and extra virgin olive oil, just until all the components are coarsely combined, not liquefied. Season with salt and pepper. With a rubber spatula, scrape down the container and stir the mixture a little. Add walnuts and pulse until walnuts are are incorporated with the rest of the ingredients, until the mixture resembles a gritty paste.

1 comment:

jay said...

i stumbled across your blog a few hours ago and it's really cool seeing a Filipino home chef who's just about as into food as i am (maybe more... haha).

i have been making pesto for quite some time now and it keeps quite well FROZEN- just add less oil (i substitute half of the EVOO with canola oil since the precious aroma will be lost during reheating- i then add more olive oil just before serving) and make sure that you remove as much surface water from the basil leaves as possible. when frozen, it doesn't really HARDEN much- and the "skin" that forms on the top turns a few shades darker with time, but i don't think it does anything significant to the taste per se. i've also found out that it keeps better WITH the cheese already incorporated into the pesto (something to do with the cheese's salt perhaps?).

i transfer the mixture into little airtight containers and "scrape off" or scoop tablespoonfuls of it from the lot whenever i need that extra flavor in minestrone, garlic bread, marinara, pizza... well you get the idea. sure beats having to put up with grass-tasting dried basil from those dried herb bottles.

:-)

anyway thanks for sharing your interesting kitchen escapades to your fellow Filipino home chefs, i will be looking forward to reading more from you soon.

God bless you. :-)

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