The beautiful warm weather we have been having has produced a bumper crop of basil in my herb gardens, both at Sizzleworks and at home. So what next? Well, my favorite thing to do is to make pesto — lots and LOTS of pesto! Eat some today, freeze some for the winter. This gorgeous green pesto is actually known as pesto alla Genoese (from Genoa), only one of many,many kinds of pesto the Italians love.
Another recipe I love to do this time of year is to make a quick fresh tomato sauce: Sauté some garlic in olive oil until fragrant, maybe a little golden. Add a little white wine and reduce by half. Then add chopped fresh tomatoes and heat through. Sprinkle with basil, cut in chiffonade, and toss, then toss with freshly cooked, hot angel hair. Serve hot, with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
chef carol’s pesto1-1/2 cups firmly packed fresh basil 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan 1/4 cup freshly grated Romano 2 cloves garlic, peeled 1/4 cup. pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, or combination 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/3 cup olive oil (or less, depending on the consistency desired)
Place basil or other leaves, cheese, garlic, nuts and salt in blender or food processor. Process with on/off turns until well blended, scrape down sides of container. Slowly add the olive oil (you may not need as much as called for, and can substitute with half water if needed), the finished product should resemble soft butter. Makes about 1 cup pesto. Freezes well.
Before spooning pesto over hot pasta, add to it 1 to 2 teaspoons of the hot water from the pasta pot. Or, add it to 1/2 cup heavy cream, which has been heated and reduced slightly.
You can also use to pesto to top meats, fish, vegetables, or soups. I like to spread it on a pizza crust, top with fontina and shrimp, plus a generous sprinkle of black pepper.
How many ways can you say YUMMM???!!!
If you want to learn to make pesto-filled potato gnocchi, please consider registering for my upcoming class, full of recipes that I brought back from my recent trip to Florence: Tuscany, Small Plates Style.