Pesto rules

It really does, no? I think so. I can think of few ingredients that have so much potential inside them to change whole dishes, usually for the better. It is the Touche eclat
of the food world. Boring grilled chicken, dull takeout pizza? Not any more. Yesterday´s sorry looking vegetable soup? Suddenly perked up beyond recognition. In sandwiches and panini, I have yet to meet a piece of ham or cheese that wouldn´t welcome a kick of basil. And as for vegetarian sandwiches, well, I think grilled aubergines just scream out loud to be brushed with pesto.

And there´s the pasta sauce use, too, where it ranks in my all time top ten. But where it comes first is at the top of the fast food top ten.
Unless you are an like an Italian grandmother , or you decide to gather pinenuts in your garden, which I once did and wouldn´t recommend, making pesto is a wheeze. It is my belief that people who bang on about pestles and mortars are very wrong to do so. They make it seem like a big deal, and this can be offputting to newcomers, who go through life in a sad twilit world of inferior pesto jars. And that´s just mean. Everyone should be made to make pesto even once, just so they can see that they can.

Now that summer´s almost here and there are big bunches in the market, priced like herbs and not jewels, there´s no excuse not to make some. I won´t give a recipe, because there are so many out there, and it really is a matter of taste. But just a few tips.

1- If you´ve never made it before, start with the real thing, and leave the experiments with other herbs and other nuts for later.

2-Make twice the amount you think you´ll need. Pesto keeps for weeks if properly cared for, which brings us to

3- Store it in small jars, the narrower the better. Make sure that whenver you take some out you scrape down everything very well, and cover it with a film of olive oil. That way, no air will get at it and it won´t turn black and nasty.

4- Put a few parsley leaves in the mix. The clorophile in the parsley also helps the fight against rust. Not so much that you can ignore step 3, though.

5- Start off with less garlic than specified. Not everyone likes that raw burning taste. You can always add more later.

That´s it.

15 comentarios:

nopisto dijo...

Ximena, I don't agree with point #2, basil gets oxidazed very easily and only lasts a couple days.

xps dijo...

Doy fe. buenìsimo.

Jerry Allison dijo...

Your tips might help with my future endeavors of pesto. Do you use a mortar and pestle?

lobstersquad dijo...

nopisto: qué va. I promise. It only oxidizes if air gets to it, which it won´t if it´s covered with oil.
Jerry: blender for me, I´m lazy, and I think it´s delicious that way.

birx dijo...

hm, I'm not sure anymore about the time pesto (and tomates confites) keep since I've recently read that you should be careful with raw herb and garlic infused oils because of botulism (you'll find more about the term e.g. at wikipedia, and near the end of the page there is a link to an additional article published by the Colorado State University).

Lucy dijo...

I find it very hard not to eat it with a spoon, straight from the jar. Home-made is so much better.

Thanks for the tip about a narrow jar - it's never occurred to me before but makes perfect sense!

Julie dijo...

You know, yesterday I was thinking how all of a sudden there were nice big bunches of basil at the market and how much I like pesto and how I really should make pesto.

And by today I'd forgotten all about it.

But then I read your post. Pesto! Thanks for the reminder.

christine dijo...

Such useful tips, thank you! Some of which I'd never heard of before. You've also reminded me that I need to make more as my supply is running low.

MyKitchenInHalfCups dijo...

Homemade is the best! Basil is growing big in my backyard!!

lobstersquad dijo...

birx: I´ll bear that in mind, although it isn´t a big deal. there´s no way a jar of pesto lasts more than a week around here. we´re addicted
lucy: oh, yes, the spoon thing, I know!
julie and christine: very welcome, I´m sure.
mkihc: very jealous. I can´t get anything to grow on our little balcony.

Lydia dijo...

Every year in August and September, I start to make lots of pesto from the basil in my garden. I freeze the pesto (without any cheese) in small containers, and enjoy the fresh green color and flavor all winter.

thepassionatecook dijo...

pestle & mortar? do i look like schwarzenegger? i make mine in the thermomix... when i make in advance so that the kids can have a quick and healthy lunch when i have no time to cook, i heat it up (in the thermomix) for 2 mins, then fill into jars or a plastic bag, pressing (or sucking) out all the air. i have never tried freezing it, must give that a go.
i've planted some basil last week, we'll see how that comes along...

sandi @ the whistlestop cafe dijo...

You are right~ pesto goes with eveything. I've got my basil growing... now I need to find some narrow jars.

Marce dijo...

Thanks for the tips, Ximena, I make pesto all the time, with arugula or even parsley if I can´t find basil at the market, and it´s one of my staples. There´s few dishes that can´t be improved by a dash of pesto.
About the freezing, my dad does it all the time because he makes big batches and it works perfectly.

kickpleat dijo...

oh it has really been ages since i've made pesto! now that i've got some basil growing nicely on my balcony i should try making some soon! have you tried smearing pesto on a chicken before roasting? oh my! delicious.