Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Pesto Ideas, by Melinda

There's a world of pesto out there--the traditional Italian type made with Genovese basil and pine nuts is only the tip of the iceberg!

Saveur Magazine has published a number of articles on the history and variability of pesto sauces and their ingredients.  To start, check out this "all-pesto dinner" at http://www.saveur.com/article/Menu/celebration-pesto-dinner-party?cmpid=cb !!!  It includes Pesto Focaccia, made with sun-dried tomatoes (click here);
Pesto Focaccia
As well, the dinner includes Provencal Vegetable Soup with Pesto Pistou (click here), Pesto-Rubbed Chicken with Panzanella (see here), and for dessert, Pesto Panna Cotta (a type of Italian ice cream) with Tomato Sorbet and Candied Pine Nuts (click here)!
Pesto Panna Cotta w/ Tomato Sorbet (source)
The word "pesto" ("pestare") simply means to pound or crush (as in, to a paste), so as you can imagine there are many varieties of pesto around the world, some of which involve no basil at all! For a short summary of various pesto types, click here.

Pesto de Prezzemolo (Parsley Pesto w/ Anchovies)--makes ~1 1/4 cups
Pesto de Prezzemolo on toasted bread (source)

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup packed parsley leaves
  • 2/3 cup capers, drained
  • 1 tbsp packed fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chile flakes
  • 2 anchovy filets in oil, drained [or sub 6 or 7 pitted Kalamata olives if you don't like anchovies]
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • kosher salt/fresh-ground pepper to taste
Process oil, parsley, capers, oregano, vinegar, chile flakes, anchovies, & garlic in food processor till smooth sauce forms; season if needed w/ salt & pepper.  (source)

Pepita & Cilantro Pesto--makes about a cup; pepitas are pumpkin (or other winter-squash) seeds

  • 2 cups packed cilantro [you can use the tender stems & flowers of the plant too]
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup toasted pepitas
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • kosher salt & fresh-ground pepper to taste
Pulse cilantro, oil, pepitas, parmesan, lime juice, & garlic in food processor till finely chopped. Season w/ salt/pepper.  (source)

Pesto Calabrese--makes ~1 1/2 cups
Pesto Calabrese (source)

  • 1 small eggplant, peeled & cut in 1/2-in. cubes
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper [or sweet Italian frying pepper], stemmed, seeded, & minced
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, cored & minced
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup packed basil
  • fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
Put eggplant in colander & toss w/ 2 tbsp salt; let sit for 20 min. Drain eggplant & dry on paper towels. Set aside. Heat oil in 10" skillet on medium-high heat; add red pepper & onion & cook, stirring often, till soft & lightly caramelized, ~10 min. Add eggplant & cook, stirring occasionally, till soft, ~8 min. Add tomatoes & cook, stirring, till soft, ~5 min. Transfer to food processor & add ricotta & basil; puree till smooth. Season w/ salt/pepper.  (source)

Broccoli Pesto Puree--makes ~2 cups

  • 1 small head broccoli (~2 cups florets)
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts or chopped blanched almonds
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 tsp chile flakes
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • pinch of sea salt
Cut broccoli into florets, rinse, & cook (boil or steam) till tender, ~3-5 min. Rinse immediately in cold water to stop cooking process. Put cooked florets in food processor with all other ingredients except salt. Whiz till smooth, taste, & add salt if desired. Puree will keep in fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for a month.   (source)
Broccoli Pesto Puree (source)
For about 80 more pesto recipes, check out this archival list from Saveur magazine (a wonderful journal, btw):  http://www.saveur.com/solrSearchResults.jsp?q=pesto.


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