Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Tutorial: Making Basil Pesto
One of my favourite sauces in the world is pesto. It is a raw sauce made in a food processor that is absolutely packed with flavour. Easy and delicious, an absolute must-know-how-to-make dish especially in the summertime.
Looking back through my blog recently, I was surprised that I had not gone over the classic basil pesto (although you can find my sundried tomato pesto here). I do not have a recipe for basil pesto but if you are looking for a good one, check out Tyler's. It's awesome! This post is more about technique and foodie intuition.
As you know, I am really trying to stretch a buck these days so when I saw a container of basil on sale for 50% off I bought it. I had to discard some of the leaves but as you can see...
... Many of the leaves were extremely healthy. I adore basil with its woodsy minty scent! What a joy. I tried growing basil but a few plants do not last long when you like pesto as much as I do so I prefer to buy it from my store. All this was only around $1.
The components that go into making pesto are not cheap. You need fresh Parmesan which luckily I had bought in a huge chunk on sale and then divided into wedges and keep in my freezer. When you do that it gets very, very crumbly. Perfect for pesto.
Also, most people add pine nuts but that is so cost prohibitive. Not just for me! I looked at a store-bought version and they used almonds instead so that is what I did. I toasted some on the stove and threw them in. I also grated in two big cloves of garlic and added some salt and pepper. Then I drizzled in a a few tablespoons of olive oil and started processing the sauce.
It was a little thin so I boosted it with some more nuts and cheese for volume.
You want the pesto to be thick but still a tad fluid. If you want to use it later, add extra oil in the top to preserve the sauce.
Because I used what I had on hand, this two-serving sauce cost me, essentially, just over $1.
I cooked up some spaghettini, sauteed mushrooms and roasted a chicken breast. I sliced up the chicken and tossed everything in the pesto. This is one of the tastiest lunches you can make and I love it when I get to eat so well for so little.
It has taken me a long time to be able to move beyond a recipe and cook more intuitively but once you do, you can take one ingredient on sale and make yourself something special for very little money. Not only is cooking your own food good for your body, it is extremely good for your wallet!
More than anything, food like this is good for your spirit.