Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Oh the Pesto!!! Making good use of those greens!!!
Basil Pesto, Swiss Chard Pesto, Beet Greens Pesto and Sun dried Tomato Pesto
And now Radish leaf...
A few years back I got my first taste of Pesto...I wondered wow where have you been all my life.
What in the heck is that green stuff called pesto anyway? The Italians have birthright to this great tasting green sauce that is generally made with basil, garlic, salt, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts (can be omitted if you have a nut allergy) and olive oil. Because of the high cost of pine nuts I have seen many recipes using walnuts and also almonds. Not only is pesto healthy, but it also has endless uses. Pesto is actually very easy to make, but you can buy it in any grocery store too. If you do make it on your own the good news is that pesto freezes very well, so you can make a big batch and store it for future use. That is what I do...
While doing some web searching I came upon this article which had some helpful hints in regards to Pesto...I liked it and wanted to share it along with some of my thoughts.
A quick word of caution: Don't overuse pesto — it can be quite overpowering and leave your recipe looking like a St. Paddy’s Day brawl in no time flat. If you’re unfamiliar with where to use it, here’s a slew of ideas to get you going:
1.Pesto Bread: It doesn’t get easier than this. Just a smear of pesto and you’ve got a great variation on garlic bread. These take just 25 minutes to make from top to bottom and would make a great dinner appetizer, too. In fact today I went to my Father in law's to borrow his kitchen...they have never had PESTO!!! So I took some crusty bread...toasted it after rubbing a little garlic clove and drizzling some olive oil on each piece. Then added the freshly made Basil Pesto. They loved it...cost me a jar of pesto, they wanted the good green sauce!!!
2.Green Pizza: Pesto on pizza is just a natural. Don't even worry about making the pizza at home, you can just as easily jazz-up your take-out pizza with a spritz of pesto for added flavor and cool color. But if you do decide to make your own pizza at home with pesto, beware you may never order take out pizza again!!!
3.Pesto Pasta Salad: Hot or cold pasta will gather some great flavor with the addition of some pesto. There are literally dozens of ways to use pesto in pasta, so you shouldn't’t be afraid to add it to your dishes.
4.Grilled Shrimp: Fire up your indoor grill or BBQ if you’ve got one, and brush on a bit of pesto for a pretty and healthy dish. Just a few minutes of work yields an inventive twist on ordinary shrimp.
5.Pesto Steak: A little of the green stuff goes a long way on a steak.
6. Potatoes: Whether baked or mashed, pesto is a delightful twist on the ordinary.
7. Marinade: Pesto rocks as a marinade on either chicken or fish. This same recipe can be used for either one.
8. Scrambled Eggs: Add some punch to tiresome eggs with a touch of pesto and you’re on your way to an appealing variation that will add some energy to breakfast.
9. Soup and sauces... If you haven’t heard of pesto soup, then you’re certainly missing out.
10. I love Pesto on my grilled chicken as a garnish...or chicken on my Pesto...I simply grill the chicken breast, then use a big spoonful of pesto on top, add a tomato relish on top of the pesto and it's a beautiful main entree dish of color and taste...
Final Notes: Pesto can be made in lots of different ways (and comes in plenty of variations as well), so you don’t have to stick to the traditional basil recipe by any means. You’ll see versions with parsley, sun dried tomatoes (often called red pesto), red peppers, spinach, beet greens, radish greens, Swiss chard greens, and on and on. Let your imagination run wild. It has been noted that the best way to make pesto is the old fashion way by using the sharp kitchen knife. If you have the time great...but using the processor will do. There is plenty of taste in this sauce/pesto regardless which method one uses....
So I would like to hear what are you using pesto for? Ideas are fun to share...
Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
Yield: About 1 Cup
1/2 cup packed basil leaves
1/2 cup toasted whole almonds
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1 generous packed cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil
1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
1 cup olive oil
1.Drain your sun dried tomatoes, lightly rinse them, and then pat them dry with a paper towel.
2.Toast your almonds in a dry shallow pan. They will take about 10 minutes, and you will smell when they are done.
3.In a large food processor, combine the basil, toasted almonds, garlic, lemon zest, and salt. Process until coarsely chopped.
4.Add the sun dried tomatoes and parmigiano reggiano cheese and process until the tomatoes are coarsely chopped.
5.Now stream in the olive oil slowly and process until the pesto comes together.
6.Serve immediately or store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 6 weeks. Or freeze....
Swiss Chard Pesto
•2 tablespoons + 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
•2 cloves garlic, chopped
•1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed (about 2 cups)
•1 cup walnuts
•2 ounces freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
•1 bunch of basil leaves (about 1/2 cup packed)
Heat two tablespoons of oil and the garlic in a saute pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot and the garlic has become fragrant, gradually add the Swiss chard, wilting it into the oil and sauteing for a few minutes. Set aside to cool.
Combine the walnuts, parmigiano reggiano cheese, and basil leaves in the bowl of a food processor. Add in the cooled chard and garlic. Pulse to roughly chop and combine the ingredients. Then, stream in the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil while blending to your desired consistency. Adjust seasoning with salt.
Beet Green Pesto:
Beet greens – from about 6 beets
1/2 cup light packed fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup hazelnuts – toasted
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese – grated
3/4 cup olive oil (more or less depending on taste and texture)
Fresh cracked pepper
Blanch beet greens and squeeze water from the greens. Add the greens, basil, and hazelnuts. Chop until fine. Add Parmigiano-Reggiano and stream in olive oil till desired consistency is reached. Season with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.
To blanch greens you simply cut away any woody stems and just use the green portion of the stems. Wash thoroughly and set aside. Get a large pot and put it on the stove until boiling. Set another large bowl full of ice water next to the stove. Add greens to boiling water, leave in for 10 seconds, remove and immediately put into ice water. Then drain. Blanching helps soften the beet greens without losing the color.
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan or parmigiano reggiano
2-4 garlic cloves
2 cups or more of fresh basil
1/2 cup of walnuts or pine nuts
Blend until desired consistency
salt and pepper to taste
It's that easy!!! It's that good!!!
Radish Leaf Pesto.....more green to use!!!
- 2 large handfuls of good-looking radish leaves, stems removed
- 30 grams (1 ounce) hard cheese, such as pecorino or parmesan, grated or shaved using a vegetable peeler
- 30 grams (1 ounce) nuts, such as pistachios, almonds, or pinenuts (avoid walnuts, which make the end result too bitter in my opinion)
- 1 clove garlic, germ removed, cut in four
- a short ribbon of lemon zest cut thinly from an organic lemon with a vegetable peeler (optional)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to get the consistency you like
- salt, pepper, ground chili pepper
Put all the ingredients in a food processor or blender or mini-chopper, and process in short pulses until smooth. You will likely have to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. This produces a thick pesto; add more oil and pulse again to get the consistency you prefer. (This can also be done with a mortar and pestle; it's great for your karma and your triceps.)
Taste, adjust the seasoning, and pack into an airtight container (I use a recycled glass jar). Use within a few days (it will keep longer if you pour a thin layer of oil on the surface) or freeze.