Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I Made This: Pesto 2 Ways

The awaited day finally came.  Pesto Day!! I finally had enough basil to make pesto. Shouts of glee were heard throughout the land, or at least the backyard.

Pesto trivia: the world pesto comes from an old Italian word meaning to pound or crush,  traditionally this beautiful dish was and still is prepared using a mortar and pestle. Pestle/pesto get it?   Even though ancient Romans were eating a kind of pesto in a begone era, pesto did not become popular in North America until the late 20th century,  man are we behind the times. 

I didn't grow up eating pesto, and have no idea the first time I put it in my mouth, but what I am sure, is that when it did hit my taste buds, my life changed. I have now made it enough times that it has become intuitive; basil, cheese, nuts, garlic, olive oil.

Basil: a big old pile of fresh basil, washed and gently dried.
Nuts: I use a mixture of pine nuts and walnuts. Pine nuts are so expensive (but sooo good) that when I buy a bag I want it to last, and I almost always have walnuts on hand, I have found them to be a good balance. I toast the walnuts a little to bring out even more their nutty flavor. FYI: nuts are cheaper at Trader Joe's than regular grocery stores.
Garlic: I use a lot of garlic. Keep in mind that it is raw garlic, so it has a nice spicy bite to it. If you are a vampire, or not so much into garlic (we can still be friends . . .I guess) you may want to use a little less garlic.
Cheese: Parmesan (Parmigiano) cheese. Always use good Parmesan cheese for pesto, and good Parm never, ever comes in a shaker. Buy a hard block of it and shred it yourself, a little extra work will give you extra good results.
Salt and Pepper (not pictured): Parmesan is already a salty cheese so add a little less salt then you think you will need. I have several different kinds of salt in my cupboard, I use kosher salt in my pesto.
Olive Oil (not pictured): Olive oil is one of the kitchen staples that I never scrimp on. I always have a big bottle of good quality extra virgin olive oil on hand. 

And because I felt like an over achiever, I made a second pesto, Smitten Kitchen's Walnut Pesto. It doesn't have any basil in it, but it does have thyme, so I can still call it a fresh from the garden pesto. The red color comes from sun dried tomatoes, which I added a little more than the recipe calls for. This stuff is so good that I was eating it right out of the food processor.

Now what to do with all these lovely pesto? I decided on two simple small pizzas. I used Trader Joe's refrigerated pizza dough, added a chuck of tomato on the basil pesto, kept the walnut pesto simple and sprinkled both with goat cheese.
Ta da!
Pesto Day should be a national holiday, in my humble opinion.

1 comment :

  1. YUM! I wish I could eat those pizzas through the computer.