Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Harvesting Summer's Bounty: Pesto Four Ways

When I started this blog back in July I mentioned that one of my newest passions was gardening, specifically growing vegetables. I started them in my garage in small pots and transferred the lot in early May to a very small and sunny garden area in my backyard. Here's my report: string beans, tomatoes, parsley and basil get a thumbs up! Peas, pumpkins and beets made brief appearances as tiny plants then disappeared faster than Entenmanns chocolate donuts in my house when everyone is over for dinner!

Well, maybe it was the especially hot summer that caused the failures but I was grateful for the vegetables that I did produce successfully because making pesto was my main objective and that was my most bountiful 'crop.'

The pesto making was part of a recent family gathering which produced some prior posts and some future ones. There were a lot of hands on deck in the form of my three sisters, daughters and nieces, everyone a lover of pesto and adventurous enough to try three other types than the traditional basil pesto. 

We purchased broccoli rabe, parsley and arugula (one bunch of each is enough for a crowd of ten-twelve people), pine nuts, walnuts and of course garlic. The recipes came from several sources: old saved magazine recipes, Mario Batali's cookbook and the Internet.

The consensus: they all tasted great I think mostly due to the freshness of the vegetables, but there were clear favorites within the group. I thought I would dislike the broccoli rabe pesto but it was not as bitter as the vegetable seems to be. Arugula, which I like in a salad tasted sharp and unpleasant but my niece and others loved it. In any case, the point was to try something different and we succeeded in that.

Give one or more a try..it's easy to make and deliciously healthy to eat!

Basil Pesto
Makes about one cup

2 cloves garlic peeled
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
5c loosely packed Basil leaves
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 oz grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c toasted pine nuts

  • Smash garlic and salt in=together in a mortar and pestle
  • Coarsely chop basil and put in blender or food processor with garlic mix until smooth
  • Add olive oil a little at a time to make a paste.
  • Add cheese and pine nuts continuing to chop until as smooth as possible. 

Serves within a day or two, or wrap well and freeze up to two months
When serving with hot pasta, add a teaspoon of pasta water with the basil  to evenly coat.

Arugula Pesto
Makes 1/2 cup

1 large bunch fresh arugula, coarsely chopped (about one cup)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic mashed
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

  • Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and pasty.
  • Toss with hot pasta, top with Parmesan cheese.
  • Add chopped tomatoes for color.

Broccoli Rabe Pesto

Based on a recipe by Mario Batali.
Makes about 4 cups of pesto.

1/2 pound broccoli rabe (or immature broccoli stalks)
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
2 tablespoons diced parsley
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more as needed
Salt and pepper to taste

  • Chop broccoli rabe and then boil in salted water for 5 minutes. 
  • Place in food processor with all ingredients except oil until well chopped
  • Add oil slowly until pesto is smooth and well blended.

Parsley Pesto
Makes 1/2 cup

2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth.

Tomorrow: An artist that works in wood

1 comment:

  1. YUM! Which pesto pasta did you leave in my fridge last week? It was heavenly!