Saturday, September 8, 2007

Simple, Natural Pesto

You and I both know how precious pine nuts are. So this idea has to be pretty good and cost efficient for me to be suggesting it! Pesto is a great pasta sauce because it is actually relatively quick to make, given that you're not actually cooking anything.

My mom in law actually gave us the pine nuts, so I'm not sure how much they would cost. But 1/2 cup of pine nuts will probably give about 7-8 meals, which means it is still very cost effective.

I noticed that pesto in the US, even pesto from specialty stores:
a) does not really taste like pesto in Italy, where pesto originates from
b) contains a lot of "extras" that shouldn't really be there -- partially hydrogenated soybean oil, preservatives, potatoes (!?) etc.

So the benefits of making your own are very great
a) It takes about 1/2 an hour
b) You can use up the basil you've been growing
c) You know what's in it
d) You immediately have a few meals prepared, that don't take up very much space in the fridge.
e) It's quite healthy

One issue in the US is that it's really hard to get real parmesan, which makes a big difference. Parmesan that is any good is exorbitantly expensive. I would substitute for any other hard aged cheese that doesn't have extra ingredients-- Romano is probably ok.


Basil, leaves only: as much as you want, but about 3 cups is a good amount
about 1/2 cup of grated parmesan
about 1/2 cup pine nuts
about 3-5 cloves garlic
some olive oil

Chop up the basil, pine nuts and garlic with your best knife. This is what takes time. You just keep chopping until you have something that could be worked into a little block (see above picture for an sense of how much you need to chop, but it also depends a little on personal preference)

Place in a container that you want to keep the pesto in, then add some olive oil. I added about 1/3 cup, but don't be afraid to guess the first time you try the recipe.

Let me know how the attempts go!

Coming soon: how to use sage (any suggestions welcome), ideas for coffee and tea grounds

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