Thursday, January 13, 2011

Nutty Pesto (Inspired by Ina Garten)

Homemade Pesto with left over chicken

OK, I love Ina Garten.  I could give up food and watch her show and probably be OK.  She’s very Hamptons, but I don’t mind.  I’d love to be a guest in her home on any day!  Her pesto was one of her first shows I ever watched.  I was intrigued by the mixed nuts used and oh the texture it gives the pesto.  I’ve altered a few things, but it has become a staple in the Ritter home.  I know you’re probably on Italian overload from these last few months- but really, just one more won’t kill either of us.

She makes me want to cook all day

Favorite Nutty Pesto (Inspired by Ina Garten)

1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pinenuts
9 garlic cloves chopped
4 cups fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
1   teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan 

Wash and dry your basil leaves.

In a food processor pulse nuts and garlic for about 15 seconds.

Then add basil, salt and pepper.  Note: recent conclusion on salt... I've decided to flavor with sea salt, but use table salt for baking and cooking purposes.  That way I get the health benefits of sea salt but still get the essential iodine from the table salt.  Yet again, balance balance balance.

Pour the olive oil in slowly until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. 

Lastly, add the parm and pulse for another 30 seconds or so.

I like to use my pesto immediately, tossing with fresh pasta.  But why not make more and also put them into ice cube trays?  My dear friend Ariana gave me a few cubes when we were first getting to know one another and I thought "I really need to hang out more with this girl!"  This is brilliant!

Pesto friend who came to visit in Portland this fall
Ideally you would want to cover them with plastic wrap, then when they’re just frozen, pop them out (sometimes waiting 3-5 minutes help loosen them) and put them in air tight baggies.  Chris will pop them out one at a time for lunch, or we’ll use several when making dinner for several.  I use pesto with leftovers all the time!  This particular instance was left over chicken breast and thigh meat and we needed more than salad at the moment.  It was perfect right before Chris ran off to class and I to cover a wrestling match.

single frozen pesto cube

-Linguine with pesto and shrimp?
-Pesto chicken salad sandwich?
-Crostini with pesto and fresh tomatoes?

No matter what you’re putting pesto into, I always like to add some chucky or slivery pieces on top of the dish for that “fresh flavor” and to let the guests know what that green is (another trick Ina does all the time). 

I've learned to making basil chiffonade- refers to stacking some fresh leaves (you can do this with sage or mint too), then roll them into a cigar (Chris is suddenly interested), then chop them up, out comes precious little string curls of basil.

Now we’re talkin.  “How easy was that?” Ina would ask.  I would answer, with my mouth full, “so easy!”

1 comment:

  1. I do love Ina and I do love pesto. It brightens to many things-- especially for a quick pasta. Go, girl!