Thursday, April 30, 2009

Homemade, homegrown Pesto, served on Fresh Kale

I love the smell and taste of fresh basil. I try to take advantage of our year-round warm weather, and have at least one basil plant growing. The one we planted last month has grown into a monster! I decided I would try to make my own pesto.

Aside from loving basil, I'm also a pine nut freak. I have to stop and remind myself how much they actually cost per pound when I start nibbling. Amazon came through again with a great deal on a case of six 4-ounce sealed containers of pine nuts. Too bad they weren't organic though. Still, they were very fresh when they arrived, and very tasty. To keep them fresh, I dumped the contents of all the containers into one freezer-safe quart-size resealable bag and put them in the freezer. One quart-size bag is much easier to store than six half-full round containers.

The nice thing about making your own pesto at home is that you can customize the ratio of ingredients, and achieve exactly the flavors and textures you like. I like mine nuttier, and with more garlic, and a little smoother. This is how I created mine, using our own homegrown organic basil:
3 cups packed basil leaves, thoroughly washed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup raw pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
salt & pepper to taste

In a food processor, combine the basil leaves, pine nuts, and garlic, stopping the food processor intermittently and pushing down the ingredients with a wooden spoon, if necessary. With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil, blending until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Myra Goodman, co-founder of Earthbound Farm, has suggestions on page 192 of "Food to Live by" on how to store your fresh pesto. Refrigerated, fresh pesto will keep for about a month. Myra suggests pouring a thin film of olive oil on top of the pesto to keep it vibrant and green. Another option is to freeze the pesto in ice cube trays, and then transferring them to a resealable bag for long-term storage, up to three months, and easy portioning.

I found a great use for the fresh pesto already, aside from stirring into hot pasta and topping with Parmesan cheese. We picked up some very lovely organic kale from our buying club this week. The leaves were young and tender, and just perfect! Too bad I'm the only one who loves dark leafy greens. This is what I did this evening, making just enough of a side dish for me:
3 fresh young kale leaves with tender stems, chopped
2 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp fresh pesto

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a dutch oven. Saute the kale for about three minutes. Add the water, and immediately cover, allowing the kale to steam for about two more minutes. Turn off the heat, and carefully remove the lid, watching for hot steam. Toss the kale with fresh pesto, and serve immediately.
Enjoy :)

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1 comment:

  1. YUM! I love pesto. I made it with spinach last time.

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