Saturday, June 12, 2010

Summer Cooking: Pesto!

One of our all-time favorite things to eat in the Summer is pesto. Basil, pine nuts, parmesan, garlic, salt and olive oil; simple yet so delicious. Here's what we do:

Gather 2 cups of basil, preferably from your own plant in the backyard. Hooray for home-grown herbs!

Toast three tablespoons of pine nuts in a pan over medium heat until golden brown. (You can also buy pine nuts already toasted from Trader Joe's, a great time saver. Plus, there is basically no recipe that calls for raw pine nuts. Toasted are always preferable because it brings out the nutty aromas and does away with any bite).

When finished, add one minced garlic clove and a healthy swish of olive oil in same pan over medium heat until garlic is sizzling and golden. (no picture, sorry).

You'll need a half cup of parmesan. If you happen to be out, as I was, you can always sub in some of this stuff from Trader Giotto's fine Italian delicatessen.

In a food processor, combine basil and a pinch of salt and puree. Add in sauteed garlic, plus another raw, minced clove, pine nuts and cheese. With processor running, pour in about 3/4 cup to 1 cup of olive oil in and process until smooth, green, creamy and dreamy.

We love our pesto over whole wheat penne with grilled zucchini, red onion, and chicken. You can also have it relaxed and easy, solamente pesto y pasta. Tonight for dinner I sauteed zucchini (from Susan's garden) and a red bell pepper until tender, added chopped tomato and pasta (a combo of ww penne and cheese tortellini), and threw in some pesto until all was coated. Added some S & P, and yummo! The kiddos love it!

Homemade Pesto
(adapted from Pasta: A Passion by Hensley, Hensley & Lowe)
2 cups basil
2 garlic cloves, minced, separated
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons pine nuts
olive oil

Process 2 cups basil and pinch of salt in food processor until pureed. Toast pine nuts in skillet over medium heat until golden brown. Set aside. Add one clove garlic and a swish of olive oil to pan, cook until sizzling and golden (watch closely; don't let it burn!)

Add cooked garlic, raw garlic, cheese and pine nuts to food processor. Blend it up. With blade running, pour in 3/4-1 cup olive oil until well blended.

Cheese Tortellini with Zucchini, Tomato and Bell Pepper
(adapted from Cooking Light)
18 oz cheese tortellini
4 cups zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cups tomato, chopped
4 TBS homemade pesto

Bring tortellini to a boil in large pot according to directions, omitting salt and fat. When finished, drain.

While pasta cooks, heat skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Cook zucchini and red bell pepper until tender, about five minutes.

Combine cooked pasta, zucchini and pepper mixture, tomato, and pesto in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss, taste and serve!

1 comment:

mel @ the larson lingo said...

Oh how I LOVE pesto!!!! I am SO glad you posted this. I am TOTALLY making this dish next week. Yum, Yum, Yum. My mouth is watering!