So it's been sorta busy around here lately. My step-sister was in town, and there has been more walking, and farmers markets, and pesto.
About two weeks ago I decided to make pesto. The hard way. With a mortar and pestle. Using an entire bundle of basil from the farmers market. It should be known that nearly every stall at the market has a different sized bundle of basil. I found the biggest, for the best price. This yields about 2 to 2 1/2 cups of pesto. And takes over an hour to make. I am now making the stuff at least twice a week because my step-father likes it so much. I think he may cry when the farmers markets close for the season. That or he's gonna have to learn how to grow basil in an apartment, because I will surely kill any plant I try to grow.
The foods prepared over the past two weeks have been: Fennel, green bean, and roasted potato salad, pesto, Tex-Mex chicken salad, pesto, mixed green salad with sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella, pesto, caprese with pesto instead of basil (that one was just for me and was spectacular), Salsa, bean dip, yogurt dip, and more pesto.
I picked up a new cooking magazine when I went to the new Whole Foods up in the Lincoln Park area. And have made four of the recipes so far. And there are at least twenty more that look like something my family would like. The magazine is awesome and I want a subscription! It's Fresh, from Fine Cooking, and appears to be a "best of" type deal.
But what else is amazing is the new Whole Foods! It is beautiful. I never thought I would ever refer to a grocery store as beautiful, but Oh My God is it ever! If you live in Chicago you must go experience it. There is a BAR in the grocery store. There is a cafe AND a wine gazebo. The store is huge, the cheese department alone is bigger than most store's entire dairy departments. Go, just go. You'll see what I mean.
Tomorrow I will be preparing a picnic that will include a new bean dip recipe, that salad with the sun-dried tomatoes, bread, and caprese made with pesto. I love summer and the opportunity it affords me to cook with FRESH ingredients!
One bundle basil
One - two cloves garlic
Parmesan- Pecorino Romano blend cheese (grated)
Pine nuts (raw)
Start with just a few leaves a little of each of the rest ingredients if using a mortar and pestle. Smoosh it all until smooth and bright green. Keep adding bits of everything until the bowl is too full to work. Keep putting the excess in a container off to the side until all basil is used. Then put it all back in the mortar and smoosh it around some more to really blend it together.
I can't really give you exact measurements, but the finished product should be bright green with darker flecks. Just keep at it 'til it looks and tastes the way you want it to. You can add sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste as well.
Now you can also make this in a food processor. That pretty much just entails putting all the ingredients into the machine and pressing "Puree". Pesto can be frozen for up to about two months. But tastes best if used immediately. And it's even better when simply used as a spread for bread. My step-father practically eats it with a spoon, by itself.
--Little Bird eats fresh