With summer in full swing, gardens everywhere are poppin’ off as evidenced in our #virtualtailgate group on Facebook. After a few weeks of seeing everyone’s harvest being used in images, I decided to get creative with some given herbs and one of my favourite dishes to play with–pasta. But this doesn’t have to be a pasta dish. Pesto can be utilized in a myriad of different ways such as on pizza, over eggs, on a sandwich, with potatoes, over roasted vegetables, etc. I ended up putting it over some roasted chicken breasts to accompany my pasta.
I was on my way home from work on a Wednesday thinking about what to do for dinner. I knew there was a Ziploc bag full of basil my mother had given me from her garden starting to go bad sitting on my counter that I had been meaning to use all week, and just hadn’t gotten around to it. My brain easily went to pesto. It’s fast, its easy, and I already had everything I needed at home. The fantastic thing about a pesto is that you can go all over the place creatively. At its base it consists of: oil, acid, herbs, and nuts. Traditionally, a pesto alla genovese would have basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmigiano-reggiano and pecorino sardo blended with a good olive oil. “Pestâ” in Genoese literally means “to crush”. The same root base is used in the word “pestle” in a mortar and pestle, which could be used to make this dish. And that’s all there is to preparing a pesto. No cooking necessary. Every single element in this dish can be subbed out for something else. I utilized the garden basil, mint from my own front yard, and some parsley from the fridge with pistachio nuts from my pantry, garlic, lemon juice, pecorino romano, and olive oil. I used those items because I had them already, but I have also used things like arugula, spinach, walnuts, almonds, red chili flakes, sun dried tomatoes, pepitos…the possibilities are truly limitless.
So, pour yourself a tall glass of your favourite brew after a long work day and go see what your garden has to offer your pesto creation. The measurements below are, of course, approximations. As you play with switching out elements, experiment with the ratios also. Always do you. I hope to see some new ideas pop up on in the group during the coming weeks! -Dustin
¾ cup Pistachio nuts, roasted and unsalted
½ cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup Basil
1/2 cup Mint
1/2 cup Parsley
1 tsp Lemon juice
1 Garlic clove
¼ cup Pecorino Romano
Salt and Pepper to taste
Course grind everything in a blender to desired consistency, adding more oil as needed to smooth it out.