Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Pesto Pesto Pesto!

Isn't pesto one of the most splendid sauces? And fresh pesto! Mmm! It makes me salivate just thinking about it. Since we got ourselves a real basil plant and have managed to keep it alive, we had the core ingredient for making some pesto. But then there was the issue of pine nuts. Now, for those of you who haven't been reading for 4 years, or for those who don't remember every single one of the 750+ posts I've written, I will direct you back to 2010 when I learned about pine mouth. Which amounts to me having an allergy of pine nuts that results in all food tasting like metal for about a week after eating pine nuts. Truth be told, I love pine nuts, but I have not eaten them since that incident. 

However, diving into the pesto realm, I thought I would give it a go, but only if we could find Italian pine nuts, rather than Chinese pine nuts, which are ostensibly the culprit of the allergy. Thus began our quest for Italian pine nuts. 

We usually shop at a wonderful place call WinCo, and they have a crazy expansive bulk food section that is crazy inexpensive. Literally hundreds of items you can buy in bulk. So of course they had pine nuts, and they were not terribly expensive. However, they did not have any label indicating from whence they had cometh. I even downloaded a QR Reader app so that I could scan the code in order to find out more info. No luck. I even asked a WinCo bulk food worker if he knew where they were from. He looked at me like I was crazy. Maybe so.

Onward to Fred Meyer. They also had pine nuts in their (smaller) bulk foods section. But they were $38 per pound. And on principle I am simply not going to even get a quarter pound of that craziness. A kind employee directed us to some packaged pine nuts, but they were also expensive ($17 for an 8 ounce bag). And from China. Cue frustrated sad music.

So my sweet husband - a man who is infinitely flexible and adaptable in the planning and execution of recipes, and who I think shines and thrives even MORE when there are road bumps along the way to a delicious dish - said we would just have to find a pesto recipe without pine nuts, and we would make it the bestest pine-nut-less pesto ever. He might not have said it precisely like that. But pretty close.

And so we found ourselves a pine nut free pesto recipe in Sylvia Sebastiani's Mangiamo. And proceeded like this:

The original recipe:

2 cups coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 to 2 sprigs parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Combine basil, parsley, salt, pepper, garlic, and oil in blender. Blend just a few seconds. Stop blender and push herbs down with a rubber spatula. Blend a few seconds, then sto again to push herbs down. Repeat this procedure until sauce is fairly thin, but not liquefied. Transfer sauce to a bowl and add cheese and reserve. 

Our thoughts and notes:

This is a pretty simple and straightforward sauce that is absolutely fresh and delicious. Even without pine nuts! We did not have fresh parsley, so we just used about a half teaspoon of dried parsley. We also only had Romano on hand, so we used that instead of Parmesan. This amount made enough pesto to go on 8 servings of  our potato gnocchi. I think that the addition of pine nuts would help thicken the pesto a bit, but we did not think it was lacking without them. We also talked to someone who has substituted almonds for pine nuts, with good results. 

My husband was right, it was pretty much the bestest.

Buon appetito!

1 comment:

preethi said...

I've used a bunch of other nuts in pesto - walnuts, almonds, etc. it's rare I actually use pine nuts since they're so dang expensive. I never measure, just throw stuff in to taste. I also use a variety of greens I have on hand - kale, spinach, whatever.