Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Jamie's Pesto...sort of

It's week 2 of getting naked with Jamie Oliver over at IHCC.  We're celebrating April showers, something we have no shortage of here at Fairfield Manor.  There was no shortage of March showers for that matter.  Ideally, April showers will bring May flowers and all that.  I have a feeling that the Manor gardens won't be lush with anything except slugs and mud in May, but we'll see.  Back to my story:  being naked with Jamie.  This week, the challenge is to prepare one of Jamie's recipes that focuses on in veg (Jamiespeak) or fruit (I'm not aware that he calls fruit anything but fruit, but if you know differently, let me know?)
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?"

First step:
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
Jamie Oliver

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 the East Wing of the house.

I've linked here:



  1. oooo pecan pesto sounds really good, I guess necessity is the mother of invention etc. Vinyl F came out very well, I like the dragon fly and snowflake (barbed?) wire too!

  2. Yum! Great pesto. I've never used pecans but have used walnuts. Funny since I like pecans more. I'll have to try that!

  3. Lovey! I love homemade pesto - perfect choice!

  4. You are so funny! Love it. I never have pine nuts either and I make pesto with everything I can find. Almonds always turn good.

  5. Homemade pesto always works - good choice! Thanks for your very nice comment on my blog. Hey, we both live on "manors" :-)

  6. Pesto is definitely a quick sauce that packs a lot of punch! I've never made it with pecans before, but it sounds like it would be amazing. Great choice! (Doesn't everybody call vegetables Veg? I always have, too. LOL.)

  7. Pesto made with pecans! yum sounds delicious.

  8. Love your choice to go with pecans for the pesto! It sounds especially tasty with mushroom ravioli. Great pick! We're very happy to have you on board at IHCC.