The other night the Earl and I joined friends for happy hour at a local Italian restaurant and for a mere 5 sheckels I had incredibly good pesto. It was served over very nicely cooked pasta with a skewer of shrimp. I've been thinking of it ever since. I love that, when you have a dish at a restaurant that stays with you, you know, in a good way. I've never made pesto at home. I don't know why, except that I rarely have pine nuts around. I decided to take this opportunity to leave my pesto virginity in the dust.
Jamie's recipe is fairly ambiguous, measurement-wise but it didn't seem to matter. I still didn't have pine nuts in the Manor larder, but I did find some pecans in the freezer and thought "how bad can that be?"
Lightly toast the pecans (or pine nuts, or just about any nuts apparently). When you just begin to detect their aroma, get them off the heat. My measurement was one overflowing handful.
Next, rinse and pat dry 3 good handfuls of basil. Seriously, these are Jamie's measuremental terms.
Measuremental isn't a word, by the way. Take the leaves off the stems.
Toss the leaves in the food processor and give them a good whack (or pound, both Jamiespeak), along with a clove of garlic and a little sea salt. Add the nuts of choice and whack again.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add a goodly handful of grated Parmasan and mix with olive oil. I ended up using about 1 cup of olive oil....all that I had so the Earl is off to the Greek deli tomorrow for replenishments.
This whole process took about 5 minutes. Seriously. Had I known that pesto was this easy, I surely wouldn't have let a small thing like the lack of pine nuts stop me. You could even leave the nuts out entirely and it would still be smack. (That should freak out the various Dukes and Countesses - smack.) heh heh. Back to the finished product, which admittedly, isn't all that attractive. There's something about vibrant green food that's slightly off putting, unless it's in it's natural state, like broccoli or something. But this stuff is amazingly good. I hope you try it. I served it over mushroom ravioli, but it would be good over any pasta, I should think.
Pesto, serves 4
1/2 clove garlic (I used a whole clove, in case of vampires you know)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 good handfuls of fresh basil, leaves picked
a handful of pine nuts, very lightly toasted (I've explained the nut situation here at the Manor, so go ahead and experiment)
a good handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
extra virgin olive oil
a small squeeze of lemon juice
Pound the garlic with a little pinch of sea salt and the basil leaves in a pestle and mortar, or pulse in a food processor. Add a bit more garlic if you like, but I usually stick to 1/2 clove. Add the pine nuts to the mixture and pound again. Turnout into a bowl and add half the Parmesan. Stir gently and add olive oil--you need just enough to bind the sauce and get it to an oozy consistency.
Season to taste, then add most of the remaining cheese. Pour in some more oil and taste again. You may like to add a squeeze of lemon juice at the end to give it a little twang, but it's not essential.
Completely unrelated news flash: Remember when I said I had a Silhouette? Well, it turns out I really don't. I have a Cricut. See how friendly we are? I don't even know her name. So, anyway, a while back I bought some vinyl because I like to do things like that, you know, buy stuff I might like to maybe give a try out someday and then put it somewhere where I'll never find it, thereby necessitating another trip to the store for the same thing....and on and on it goes. Aaand we're back.... so this morning was apparently the morning I was going to finally try to cut some vinyl. I gingerly pulled Ms. Cricut out and pressed the open button (which is awesome in itself), spent 15 minutes rummaging around and found the vinyl (I was positive it was black, but turns out not, it's brown). After reading the rule book one more time (it's hell getting old....mind turns into a sieve, and not in a good way), I pressed some buttons, slapped the vinyl on the cool sticky mat and voila, I have a big ol' F! So easy. Stay tuned...I'm pretty sure I'm about to go crazy with this stuff. For now, I had to find a place for my F, so the only likely spot I could quickly find (because I have to get to work to pay for more vinyl) was the old door we have randomly leaning against a wall in the Manor living room....in the East Wing of the house.
I've linked here: