Monday, June 2, 2008

Day 52: Pesto Round 2

So, I'm about to leave on a trip, and as you can see in the picture in my last post, the basil was getting a bit crowded, so it was time for a haircut.

The user manual gives a lot of good advice about pruning the plants. My goal was to cut all the plants so they're the same height, and to give them time to grow for the week. This left me with about 3 cups of basil.

I'm still too stubborn to just throw them away, so I made myself another batch of pesto, which I promptly froze and will enjoy when I return. This time I used freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, so I expect the result to be spectacular.

Here's the recipe I used. This one is for P, the one person I know reading this blog:

1 or 2 plump garlic cloves
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp pine nuts
3 cups loosely packed basil leaves, stems removed, leaves washed and dried
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 to 3 tbsp grated pecorino romano to taste
2 tbsp soft butter (optional)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

The cookbook recommends making it by hand for a true experience that lets you take in the wonderful aromas and lets you see the amazing transformation of the ingredients.

By hand: smash the garlic with 1/2 tsp salt and the pine nuts to break them up, then add the basil leaves a handful at a time (if you're impatient, you can speed things up by tearing the leaves into smaller pieces first.) Grind them, using a circular motion, until you have a fairly fine paste with very small flecks of leaves. Briefly work in the cheese and butter and process just to combine.

Of course, for those who are running too to a trip and haven't packed yet, there is a quicker way:

In a food processor: Use the same ingredients but in the following order. Process the garlic, salt, and pine nuts until fairly finely chopped, then add the basil and olive oil. When smooth, add the cheeses and butter and process just to combine.

This recipe is from the GREAT cookbook Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Now I'm not a vegetarian, not even close to one, but I love this cookbook. My sister bought it for me in an attempt to get me to eat healthier, and it worked (although some of the recipes are so delicious I end up eating multiple portions, to my chagrin!) Anyway, highly recommended for anyone who is interested in cooking vegetables so delicious you forget they're good for you. It's available at Amazon.Com.

Well, off to my trip. One other nice thing about the Aerogarden is that it doubles as a light to ward off burglars--it happens that I have the units set to go off around the time I'd sleep and wake up, so it saves me from buying and setting up one of those automatic light timers.

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