Friday, August 29, 2008

Quick Dish: Presto Pesto

Pesto is one of my all-time favorite go-to quick dishes. You can whip it together in literally 1 minute and use it a thousand ways: it’s great on hot or cold pasta, mixed into scrambled eggs, as a base sauce for pizza, dolloped on baked fish or as a ‘marinade’ for grilled shrimp…the list goes on and on. You can also feel free to vary the ingredients based on what you have on hand – walnuts or pistachios instead of pine nuts, parsley, cilantro and/or spinach for the green, etc. However, as an addict of the summery zing of fresh basil, I tend to stick with my basic version. (Though one word of caution: don’t use purple basil. Pretty as it is prior to blending, nobody finds brown gloop very appetizing).

Even better - pesto freezes well. I make at least a double batch each time, pour some into a baggie and toss it in the freezer for another night. (This is also a great way to have "fresh" pesto come fall when farmers' market basil is long gone).

Presto Pesto
1 packed cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, smashed
Zest and juice of one lemon, optional
1/4 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, depending on your chunky/smooth preference
¼ cup parmesan cheese
Plenty of salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients into a blender and process until smooth.

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