Thursday, October 7, 2010

Eating “Paste”

I don’t know about you, but I am a food magazine junkie: Every Day with Rachael Ray, Food Network Magazine, Real Simple and Coastal Living (which both have very nice food sections), and my favorite: Everyday Food from Martha Stewart. I like that last one because the recipes are easy, mostly healthy, and don’t require a ton of one-time ingredients. You know, like brown miso, which costs $5.50 for a small container, of which you use only one tablespoon. But I digress…

As I go through each magazine, I rip out the pages of the recipes that look interesting, then pile them in the back of my homemade recipe book for future experimentation. If I recipessee something on TV I want to try, I print out that recipe and add it to the pile as well. And  if, when I make a recipe, I like it, I three-hole punch it and add it in. If not, in the round file it goes.

A couple of times a year, I go through the pile and weed out those that really don’t look all that interesting after all. Last week I did that. And what I found was a crazy amount of pesto-related recipes … which got me thinking: It’s that time of the year to harvest whatever basil is left in our gardens. It’s time for pesto.

Before I get to the recipes, it’s probably best to explain the method for making pesto. Generally, there is a green leaf of some type and a nut of some type, cheese, garlic, salt, and olive oil. In a food processor, process all the ingredients except the oil. Then slowly drizzle in the oil until a nice paste forms.

I found two different basil pesto recipes in my pile last week.

The first is from my Aunt Liz in Florida. We call her Liz, even though her friends call her Judy and her real name is Eileen. I don’t know the back story there, but since I’m being vague, let me add: she isn’t really my aunt either. We’ve just always called her that, because she’s been a close friend of our family … well, forever, as far as I’m concerned. My parents met her and Uncle Red (who we miss immensely) before I was born, and we’ve all remained friends ever since. Aunt Liz and Uncle Red even traveled from Florida to Pennsylvania for my wedding all those years ago.

More importantly, Aunt Liz and I share many interests: cooking and baking, tennis, stitching, antiquing. Just look at this lovely teapot that she passed down to me, knowing I would just adore it (as I do):


Aunt Liz often shares recipes with me as well. The pesto one she recently sent is classic: basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil, and salt & pepper. My mouth is watering just typing that in.

The second recipe, which was copied from one of those Italian cookbooks I borrowed from Mom earlier this year, is very similar to Aunt Liz’s, but it also calls for Romano cheese and, get this … butter. How dreamy does that sound?


(Click here to view
and print recipes)



Also in that pile were two recipes from Mario Batali — one for broccoli rabe pesto, and one for walnut pesto — and a recipe for arugula pesto from Every Day with Rachael Ray. (Don’t forget: large, blue type indicates a link. Simply click on a link for the corresponding recipe.)

Another of my favorite non-basil recipes also comes from Rachael, who offers up an Artichoke Crema Pesto recipe to die for. Unfortunately, I can’t find a link to that one online, but you can find the recipe in her first cookbook, 30-Minute Meals.

“Fine, I’ll try them, Maria,” you say, “but, what do I do with all this pesto?” I say: “Take your pick”:

The combinations for pesto are seemingly endless, as are the uses. What’s your favorite pesto recipe, and how do you like to use it? I’d love to hear from you … mi piacerebbe sentire da voi.


Beth @ Dirty Laundry said...

Hey Maria, being a non-Italian, I thought pesto was pretty much for the tops of deli sandwiches in Panera. Thanks for the recipes and all the ways to use it!

Wendy said...

Yum! Love Pesto!! And we have the same problem with magazines!! I have been dragging my ripped out pages to dance every Monday and going through them!! Maybe we could trade...would that be adding to our problem or helping?? Either way Tony gets some fun magazines I think you would love :)

Maria M. Boyer said...

Which ones, Wendy?

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I learned to make pesto when I was first married from my landlady. My husband's family didn't make it as it was not popular in southern Italy during the time they lived there. I think it originated in the north, in Genoa.
In addition to using only the best really dark green leaves from the basil plant I always use pine nuts, but walnuts are a good substitute, and I use extra virgin olive oil and grated Romano cheese in mine. At this point in my life I don't need a recipe ... I just eye ball it.

I am definitely addicted to food magazines...I'll never live long enough to make all the recipes I've accumulated over the years

Vagabonde said...

I just found your blot and will look at your back posts as I love Italian cooking. Since you said mi piacerebbe sentire da voi I’ll tell you that the first time I made pesto it was from a French magazine. Tornerò. Ho studiato italiano prima di inglese, ma era tanto tempo!