Tag Archives: sauce

Pesto

1 Jul

Glowing green. Scented with basil, pine nuts, pecorino and garlic. Goopy, gooey goodness. I am nuts about pesto. Its so easy to make – about 5 minutes cooking time to toast the nuts, and the rest a few pulses in your food processor. You can eat this so many ways: straight from the bowl (as per usual!); stirred through pasta or even rice; as an amazing addition to a sandwich or salad dressing; and, as I will be using it, as the base of a terrific lasagne.

Pesto can be made with so many things – any green vegetable – or go further – let your imagination take flight – use butternut, sun ripened tomatoes, mushrooms even. Try it with almonds, macadamias, walnuts, and change the cheese – blue, parmesan, etc. Its so flexible, and so delicious.

Note that I use some rocket in this recipe (about 1 to 3 in terms of the basil) because basil in Malaysia is very strongly flavoured. If your basil is the gentler variety, feel free to omit the rocket entirely.

For about 2 cups you will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups pine nuts
  • 2 cups (150 g) well packed, washed basil
  • 3/4 cup rocket
  • 5 large cloves of garlic, chopped into chunks
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup grated pecorino or parmesan
  • Up to 1 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

First off, toast the pine nuts. In a non stick pan, over medium heat, layer the pine nuts. Make sure you keep stirring with a spatula. These go from golden toasty to burnt in a split second, so be careful.

Put your basil into food processor and add about 1/4 cup olive oil. Pulse a couple times so its completely chopped. Add the rocket, and pulse again.

Add the pine nuts, and pulse well, adding a little more olive oil if you feel it is needed.

Add the garlic and salt, and pulse again. Add the pecorino or parmesan, and mix with spatula. Turn out into a bowl, and add a little more olive oil until its the consistency that you prefer.

I would certainly make this at least 1 day in advance to allow the flavours to meld. Save covered with a slick of olive oil, covered, in the fridge.

Asparagus Pesto

23 Jun

Astonishing, divine, food of the Goddesses. Bright green and tasting like spring. You can eat this right out of the bowl (my sister, M’s preferred consumption method), or spoon it over toast rounds for bruschetta, in a sandwich, or over pasta or couscous. Its so extremely good, it needs no accessories. This is one of my favourite meals because who knew that asparagus could be made into pesto – and who knew that this taste combination existed and was soooooooo goood?!

You will need (for about 3 – 4 cups):

  • 1 1/2 pounds (about 600 – 700 gms) asparagus
  • 1 cup pine nuts
  • 5 – 7 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup (or more) extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt

First prepare your asparagus. Ensure that the tough woody bits have been snapped off – the asparagus will do the work for you if you just hold it and snap it near the bottom end. It will naturally break where the tough bit is – discard this. Chop the asparagus very roughly – 2 – 3 sections per asparagus. In a large pot of boiling, lightly salted water, blanch the asparagus till bright green. They need to be cooked, but not soft. Probably about 5 minutes or less. Just before you drain the asparagus, put a coffee mug in the boiling water, and remove a mugful, and keep aside. Drain, and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a shallow frying pan, toast the pine nuts (no oil or anything added) until golden and slightly browned. Use a spatula and keep stirring the nuts. Keep a watch – these go from light golden to toasted to burnt in a blink of an eye and you cant really save them when they burn. Set aside to cool.

Put all the asparagus and garlic into your food processor, and pulsing gently, start the machine. Add about half the olive oil in a steady stream. Add all the pine nuts, and pulse again, adding the rest of the olive oil. Add the parmesan and lemon and pulse again. If at any point the mixture gets too thick, add a little of the water you kept from the asparagus. Taste and adjust seasoning. You might need more oil or salt, or even parmesan.

I usually keep aside a few asparagus tips and serve this combined with angel hair pasta, with the tips for prettiness. Its delicious. And very good for you!!!