Friday, September 21, 2012

Pesto Genovese

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Its been a very long time since I posted on this blog and finally today I found the time to do so. I can tell you for one thing that it wasn't laziness and gastronomically speaking the time gone by has been my most active period when it comes to food and beverages. Even apart from food & beverages this has to be the most active time, period. After 16 long years in the corporate rat race, I decided to take a break and follow my dreams, mind you dreams, not just one dream and even though I thought I will take a nice month off and then get into the grind, it was not to be. Since then I have been working on various projects, two of which are starting a concept restaurant and consulting on a adventure resort for a close friend. There were several meetings with people, both for business and pleasure, and many meals in restaurants.
Infact it was on one such meeting at a friends residence that he showed me the basil that had grown on his farm and how he intended to make Pesto that day. Post making some pesto with him, I carried a pack of Basil leaves home with me to make some of my own. My better half loves Pesto and since she is extremely busy with her business, this being the peak season, this would have been a nice surprise. Though, various versions of Pesto exist, some that involve walnuts, sun dried tomatoes and believe me eggplants, the classic basil pesto has always had a special place in my heart (and stomach). A short detour to the grocery store fr some ingredients, and I was all set to make my own Pesto. 
Now there are few things that I always follow while making Pesto, and that because I'm a purist and like to do things the hard way. Believe me the result shows in the taste. For starters, I always blanch the basil leaves. Blanching the basil leaves gives the pesto a nice bright color and not too forget it reduces the natural bitterness that basil imparts to the pesto (And this is because I do not find young small basil leaves in India).Secondly, everyone that I have seen uses the food processor these days. I prefer using the good old mortar and pestle. It takes long that way, but somehow I love the pesto more. If you want more information on Pesto, its origins and variations wikipedia has a nice post on it.

Pesto Genovese

Basil leaves, blanched in boiling water for 20 seconds and shocked in ice cold water - 3 Cups
Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 1/2 Cup
Parmesan, finely grated - 1/3 Cup
Pecorino, finely grated - 2 Tblsp
Pine Nuts - 1/4 Cup
Garlic, finely chopped - 2 Cloves
Sea Salt - To Taste

1. Add all the ingredients, except the seal salt and half the olive oil in the mortar and pound them to a smooth paste. Continue adding the olive oil during the pounding.
2. Season with sea salt. 

Serving suggestions - You can add it to Pasta, Minestrone, and potatoes while cooking. I love taking a nicely toasted bread slice and spreading pesto on it and adding some shredded chicken or assorted vegetables. 


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