Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"I literally made the most pesto ever," said in my best Chris Traeger voice

Last weekend my mission was to use up all my basil before the fall frost ruined it.

For me fresh basil=pesto. I love pesto...and by love I mean looooovveeee. One of the reasons
that I married my husband is because he had the secret pesto recipe from an unnamed pasta restaurant that he worked at in E'burg (I kid, I kid, but I do have the recipe now).

Things I learned during the pesto process:
Pesto stains everything it touches.
Basil reacts with oxygen somehow(O-chemers any comments?) and turns your skin black.
The old trick about rubbing your hands with a stainless steel spoon to get rid of garlic smell actually works.
Meat tenderizers make for excellent garlic smashers.

The first step to making a giant bowl of pesto is to gather all your ingredients. Aside from basil, I ran out of pretty much everything and had to start making substitutions.

You will need:
lots of basil
lots of garlic cloves
lots of olive oil (ran out of regular EVOO so I used a garlic infus
ed olive oil to make up the difference)
lots of Parmesan cheese
a cup or so of walnuts
2 1/2 cups of sunflower seeds (roasted but unsalted) (the recipe called for pine nuts...which are delish but too rich for my blood)

First, peel the basil leaves from the stems. I totally underestimated how long this would take, so I enlisted my sous chef. I had to promise him a batch of whatever kids of cookies he wanted, but it was worth it.

I put all the leaves into the sink filled with water in order to wash them and pick out the less desirable leaves. Then I drained the water out and patted dry the leaves. At that moment I
realized that a salad spinner may have been a good kitchen tool to have.

Then I just started mixing everything together. The restaurant recipe called for a "bag" of nuts and a "container" of cheese, etc. Since I didn't know what the quantity of said "bag" was, I just started tasting and guessing.

First I tried using the blender. Alas, a magic bullet my blender is not and nothing mixed together except for the EVOO and basil. So into my mini chopper everything went and although it worked, the chopper is so small that it took many batches to finish. After each batch I poured the mixture into a large bowl and then mixed everything together with a spoon again at the end to make sure that the inconsistencies in my proportions were minimized.

Lastly, I put a "dinner party" amount in a plastic bag and then portioned individual pesto disks and froze everything. Now I can just pull out a disk and have pesto all through the winter (30 portions total). WIN! Even though it made the a giant mess, the most dishes ever and my breath smelled like garlic for a week (I was eating spoonfuls of the leftovers) I had tons of fun making this.

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