Punk Rock Pesto in Summer's Favorite City

 

He: It is exotic and stimulating ...

She: Of course it is. 

He: Yes. It's known to alleviate ... inflammation.

She: Lover ... you're so bad ...

He: βασιλεύς

She: What baby?

He: Basileus. It's Greek for "King"

She: Oooh ... 

He:  Ocimum basilicum

She: Ooooh. Say more things like that ...

He: Okay.  Basil.

She: Oooooooh myyyyy.

Yes, Yes, Yes!  Basil is one of my all time favorite things on earth. (rockstar lunge. guitar riff) It's known for its fragrant scent. It's rumored to have medicinal properties. It is grown all over the world. Even here in Chicago with our crazy ass weather. Lovely. Beautiful. Basil. In addition to adding a great depth of flavor, basil actually does interact with certain brain receptors. It has a cannabinoid effect without the mind altering high. It calms and soothes while it is also being delicious.

To that end, I love pesto. Traditionally, pesto is a sauce made with crushed garlic, pignolis (pine nuts), olive oil, basil, Parmigiano Reggiano (parmesean cheese) and Fiore Sardo (a hard sheeps' milk cheese made in Sardinia/Northern Italy).  There are many other variations. Some contain walnuts as opposed to pine nuts.

I get super crazy and use almonds.  Here you go. Make some fetticini to have this as a sauce, or just do as I do and slather it on bread and eat it. 

Until next week...Eat lustfully. Enjoy.  Repeat.

SKILL LEVEL: WICKED FRICKIN' EASY

PREP TIME: Roughly 30 Minutes

COOK TIME:  7 Minutes

YIELDS:  Approximately 4.5 cups of pesto

ANY CRAZY TOOLS REQUIRED? Food Processor or wicked powerful blender. Rubber Spatula.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup whole almonds
  • 5-8 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 5 packed cups of fresh basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups good olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups freshly grated Parmesan
  • ½ cup of  Romano Cheese 

THE FINE PRINT

As Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, says: "Air is the enemy of pesto. For freezing, pack it in containers with a film of oil or plastic wrap directly on top with the air pressed out". I can't reiterate this enough. Basil is a delicate and beautiful thing and it will get super gross if not properly stored.

You may also roast the garlic beforehand. If you've never tried it, I highly recommend it. I does change the flavor profile to one that is more mellow so if you were using another hard cow's milk cheese  like Asiago the roasted garlic would pair nicely with its nutty richness. 

GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS

STEP ONE.  Wash and dry the leaves well.  You can use a salad spinner if you have one. If not, no worries. They tend to dry pretty fast. Soak them in a bowl of water and then dry them between two sheets of paper towel.  (The salad spinner is a little greener, no pun intended, but ya gotta get that farmer's market dirt off of the leaves or you'll be bummed out by silica crunchies.

STEP TWO. Turn on the oven and set it to 350. Put the almonds onto a baking sheet.  Bake the almonds for 7 minutes or until they become fragrant.

STEP THREE. Place the almonds, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds.

STEP FOUR. Add the basil leaves, and salt. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube (or if doing so in a blender, through the top of the lid) and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed.

STEP FIVE. Add the Parmesan and the Romano and puree for one minute. If necessary, add a little more olive oil.

Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top so that moisture is retained.

 

 

 

 

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