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 see 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?
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”:
- Serve over a pasta of your choice. Here’s a great recipe for the Arugula Pesto Pasta with Ricotta and Bacon.
- Use in place of mayo on your favorite sandwich or panini.
- Bake some Pesto Chicken.
- Make a pizza, brushing olive oil on the dough before layering pesto and fresh mozzarella on top. Grill or bake until the crust is brown and the cheese has melted. You could even use one of those prepared crusts, if you prefer.
- Whip up a Layered Pesto Cheese Spread.
- Make a nice Pesto Chicken Salad.
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.