Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Random Recipe: Pesto

When I make pesto, I think of James Beard's Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic recipe.  Forty cloves would be my Platonic ideal for this recipe, but not everyone loves the flavor of garlic as much as I do.  For a family of five, and to guarantee leftovers, you'll need about five 250 gram (about two cups) boxes of arugula (or "rucola" as it's known in Europe).  You can also use bunches of basil, if available.
Take all the dirty dishes out of the sink and wash it.  Put in the plug.  Dump all arugula in and fill with cold water.  Gently swish the arugula around and then lift it out into a colander.  Empty the water and rinse the sink, in which you'll find several teaspoons of sand, even though the arugula has supposedly been pre-washed.  Re-fill sink and wash arugula two more times.  Drain and set aside.
In your food processor put anywhere from six to twenty or more cloves of garlic.  The more the merrier I always say.  Add one or two wedges of fresh parmesan or asiago, sliced in chunks.  Pour in the best quality olive oil you can find--at least half a cup, perhaps more.  Process until it's all a big white mush.  Add the arugula--you won't be able to get it all in at once, so as you're processing, keep poking handfuls in through the top. 
I make it without nuts, since I'm allergic to them, but if you are not, you might try a handful of walnuts or pine nuts.
Serve over warm pasta.  A salad with lots of cucumber and tomatoes on the side is a pleasant addition, as is some freshly grated parmesan.

Decant all leftover pesto into ice trays or into small plastic containers and freeze them.  Microwave whenever you need a serving--not in the plastic!  To get the pesto out of the plastic container, run a little hot water over the bottom of the container, then up-end on a plate.

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