Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Recipes: Pesto Two Ways

I love pasta with pesto, and prefer making my own pesto to buying it.  The jarred kind always has too much oil for my liking, and lacks the bright, fresh colour and flavour of fresh pesto.  It's also really easy to make.  My favourite is sun-dried tomato pesto, but my son has fallen in love with basil pesto, or as he refers to it "the pasta you made when grandma was here." 

Pesto is one of those things that makes a dish seem fancy, although it really takes very little effort.  If you're looking for a new way to enjoy pasta, pesto is a great alternative to regular sauce.  Here are two pesto recipes that I make frequently.  The amounts are approximate because pesto needs to be made to taste, and that means it's a little bit different every time.  Play around until you get the flavour you want.

Basil Pesto (makes enough sauce for approx. 6 servings)

2-3 big handfuls basil leaves, washed
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1 handful pine nuts
squeeze lemon juice
1-2 handfuls good quality parmesan cheese
Salt to taste
olive oil as needed

1- In a food processor, combine basil, garlic, pine nuts and lemon juice with 1 handful parmesan cheese. 
2- Turn on processor, and add olive oil in a stream until pesto comes together in a mixture a little bit looser than a paste. Alternatively, place 1/2 cup olive oil in with the other ingedients, blend, and add more as needed.  Add salt to taste, and more cheese if desired. 

That's it.  I use it for pasta, over chicken and even sometimes with fish.  I vary the consistency depending on what I'm using it for.  It freezes well, although the colour will darken and the cheese separates a bit, so reblend upon thawing. 

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto (makes enough sauce for approx. 6 servings)
I've listed a jar of oil packed tomatoes in the ingredients for simplicity, and it's possible to just use the oil from the jar.  Omit the additional herbs in that case, as the oil is already conidmented. 

1 jar sun-dried tomatoes, drained (approx. 1 cup tomatoes)
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1 handful basil or parsley leaves, washed
1 handful good quality parmesan cheese, or more to taste
olive oil (1/2 cup or more as needed)

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until more or less smooth.  Add more cheese or oil as necessary.  Great with pasta, as a stuffing in meat, or as a spread on sandwiches. 

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