Monday, November 5, 2007

A Pesto Emergency Declared a Success

Last Sunday, yes a week ago, the weather people called for our first hard frost. And indeed, I did find myself scraping my windows on Monday morning. Sunday night around 10 p.m., however, had us scurrying around the backyard harvesting the rest of our garden. I sawed down the only remaining fennel plants (Earlier this fall, I had mistakenly thought they had done everything they were going to do, so I pulled out most of the fennel plants. Good thing I got sidetracked half way through the project and left a couple of plants.) We also picked our basil. All week the basil sat in our kitchen in a vase omitting the fragrance only slowly decomposing basil can (somewhere between that smells good and did the cat pee on the floor).

I finally got around to making pesto out of the basil this morning. During this process, I thought for sure it was headed for disaster. I was too lazy to get out the new food processor, so I made it in the blender. This was touch and go for a little bit and I think I ended up adding more olive oil than when I have it made in the food processor (the blender needs liquid to get things moving). Also, the pine nuts seemed suspiciously freezer burned, however about 10 minutes in a pot over low heat took care of that. Also, according to this place (really, who knew Gahanna, Ohio is the herb capital of the world!) you should always blanch your basil leaves before turning into pesto so to maintain their green color. I might have blanched about 35 seconds too long. Worst of all, the only garlic we had in the house was a little past its prime (horror) and I could only salvage one clove. On the plus side, I had real parmigiana reggiano on hand and some really good olive oil. We had pasta with pesto on it tonight and even had some leftover to freeze. Pesto is one of those things I think you have to just make, following a recipe just won't work. Once you know what is in it - fresh basil, good olive oil, cheese (which is optional), pine nuts (or walnuts if you want the Omega 3s and want the dish to be budget friendly), garlic - you can make a batch and bring back the taste of summer throughout the winter because it really does freeze beautifully.
* This whole heroic pesto scene took place on Saturday, but is just being posted now.

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