Sunday, May 20, 2007

Pining for pesto

As all faithful cheeselings know, all my cooking and eating is craving-driven. That is to say, what I make on any given night is never a result of weekly planning or forethought at the grocery store. Each and every day, usually by lunchtime, I know what it is I *need* to have for dinner. Sometimes the cravings arrive in the form of an entirely "baked" concept like, say, blasted chicken with roast potatoes and minty peas–a perennial favorite. Other times, the cravings are more flavor-based, and pop into my noggin in the form of thoughts like, "I wonder what fennel braised in white balsamic would taste like..." and then a dish is built around that notion.

So yesterday, it was nearing dinnertime, and my daily craving had not yet presented itself. (I wish it would arrive on schedule like Daily Candy in my inbox...."Good morning, Jamie. Today the food you can't live without is snozberries"...)

So anyway, once I started ruminating about the possibilities, it was clear I needed to have something ultra-garlicky. And what better than a summery, zesty pesto?

What's so great about this craving is that you can whip it up fresh in a matter of minutes, and few things taste as good. You'll need:

2 bunches basil, stemmed
1/2 c. good olive oil
1/2 c. grated parmigiano reggiano
1/2 c. toasted pine nuts
3 cloves garlic
pasta (unless you intend to eat it with a spoon, which I've been known to do, much to the dismay of anyone within breathing range)
blender or food processer

First, toast your pine nuts in a dry pan. You can do this in the oven or on a burner, but I recommend the latter so you can keep an eye on the little buggers. They'll burn before you can say "$7 down the drain!" Use medium heat and keep them movin' and a-shakin. Once they're a lovely golden brown, rescue them from the heat and pop them into a blender or food processer. I use a mini FP, perfect for salad dressings and such. Now add your olive oil, basil, reggiano and garlic and give it a good long buzz so everything's well chopped and blended. Beware that sometimes large garlic nuggets remain, having not been completely pulverized by the blade. Fish them out or leave them in for a good liver cleansing.

Now boil your pasta and then spoon this savory spread on top. You don't need much because it's pretty potent stuff. A few lovin' spoonfuls will nicely spice your whole dish. Now eat up, bambinos! Mangia, mangia!


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