Tuesday, June 28, 2011

On a Pesto Kick

When I was deciding on which herbs to grow in my little garden I was probably most excited about the prospect of having plenty of cilantro on hand for my corn, avocado and lime salsa, however, this has changed and I cannot believe how much I am enjoying having a constant supply of fresh basil.

To be honest basil was not something I cooked with very often pre-garden. It was expensive to buy in the stores, I never used it all and the dried stuff just does not compare. But now that I have the plants in the backyard and I can harvest how much (or how little) I want at a time, I've found myself using it a whole lot.

 In high school my friends and I use to make this pesto, tomato and onion pasta dish all the time. (I'm not sure why we didn't continue this into college.) So last weekend I realized I had at least two cups of fresh basil that I had trimmed from my plants just sitting in the fridge. There was no way I could have made enough pizzas to use it all so I decided to make a classic basil pesto.

It was so easy! It took minutes in the food processor and my finished result was way better than store bought and also WAY cheaper!

Simple, Classic Pesto
2 cups of fresh basil
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 heaping tablespoons of walnuts (or pine nuts)
1-3 cloves of garlic (depending on your love of garlic)

-Put everything in the food processor except for the olive oil and nuts. Process until smooth-ish.
-Add oil slowly until desired consistancy.
-Add cheese and mix thoroughly.

Store in the refrigerator and enjoy!
After I made the pesto I decided to re-create the dish I use to make in high school. It doesn't have a name but here is how I made it! This usually serves around four to six people depending on appetites...

Tomato, Pesto and Herb Pasta
1/2 a medium onion
1-2 cloves of garlic
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cans of diced tomatoes (mine were Italian flavored)
2 tablespoons of fresh oregano chopped finely
2 tablespoons of fresh basil chopped finely
1/2 of the pesto you made earlier
1/2 box of pasta - cooked (a heartier pasta is suggested & gluten-free if needed)

-Saute the onion in a pan with the olive oil and garlic.
-Add in the tomatoes and herbs and cook until heated through
-Add in the pesto and stir until completely incorporated
-Serve over the pasta!

Another option would be to take some Italian sausages out of their casings, chop them up and fry the bits up with the onion!

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