Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Pesto is an olive-oil based sauce attributed to the Liguria region of northern Italy, specifically the city of Genoa.  It may be considered the oldest oily sauce in gastronomic history; however, the recipe took its current form in the mid-nineteenth century.  The main conventional ingredients are basil, garlic, salt, pine nuts, olive oil and Parmigiano Reggiano.  However, originally it did not contain basil, only cheese and olive oil.


Traditionally prepared with a wooden pestle and marble mortar so that the basil gave up its entire flavor, imagetoday it is still the best way but most people use modern equipment like food processors which cut rather than squash the leaves allowing more of the aromatic oils to evaporate.       

The best basil for pesto is Genovese basil and the best time to prepare pesto is summer, when the herbs are at their freshest and most fragrant!  The great challenge with pesto is deciding on the proper proportions with which to combine the ingredients and what extras or substitutions may be added to make a pesto that suits your personal taste.  Here is a recipe to get you started.

4 cups basil leaves, well packed
4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed and peeled
1 cup pine nuts
1-1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano 
1-1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
            Place basil leaves and garlic in food processor or blender and process until leaves are finely chopped. Add nuts and process until nuts are finely chopped. Add cheese and process until combined. With the machine running, add olive oil in a slow, steady stream. After the oil is incorporated, turn off the machine and add salt and pepper to taste. If not using immediately, store in an air-tight container with a thin coating of olive oil on top to keep the sauce from turning dark. Pesto will keep well in the refrigerator for a week or more. This recipe yields approximately 3-1/2 to 4 cups, and can be halved.

Some other alternatives include other herbs . . .


2Tbs each fresh finely chopped rosemary and thyme

1/3c macadamia nuts

1/4c garlic cloves

1Tbs salt

1/4c grated Parmesan cheese

1/4c olive oil      

            In food processor, puree nuts, garlic, salt, cheese and oil until smooth.  Stir in rosemary and thyme then season with ground black pepper.

MINT PESTO         

3c fresh mint leaves

1/2c pine nuts or blanched almonds

2 cloves garlic

1/2tsp grated lemon zest 

1/4c olive oil and water  

            Combine all ingredients in food processor except oil and water and process until mint is finely chopped.  Add oil and water until well blended.  Great with lamb.

4c chopped fresh chives
2oz slivered almonds
1c freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1/4c olive oil
            Combine all ingredients in food processor except oil until finely chopped.  Add oil, with machine running, until your desired consistency.

. . . and even a couple more can be used to celebrate Fresh Spinach Day today!


4 c fresh spinach                                          

3 cloves of peeled garlic                              

3Tbs ground flaxseed and toasted walnuts                       

1/4 c olive oil                                                                

1/2 c Parmesan cheese         

Salt and freshly ground black pepper
            Combine all ingredients in food processor except oil until finely chopped.  Add oil, with machine running, until your desired consistency.

1/3c fresh sage
1/3c fresh parsley
3/4c fresh spinach
2Tbs toasted walnuts
2 garlic cloves
3Tbs olive oil
1-2oz Roquefort or other blue cheese
            Blend first five ingredients in food processor then add oil and cheese until blended.  Great with pork, black bean soup and pasta.



Give, and it will be given to you. 
A good measure, pressed down, shaken together
and running over, will be poured into your lap. 
For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you
Luke 6:38

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