Let's talk about ... Pesto

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Let's talk about ... Pesto

Postby Robin Garr » Mon Sep 03, 2012 8:35 pm

Posting dinner outside if "What's for Dinner" again in hope of getting some discussion going about alternative approaches.

I made pesto over linguine tomight. A straightforward pesto, fresh Genovese basil processed with garlic, pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, S&P and a good ration of Tuscan olive oil, which does ramp up the calories but makes up for it, I hope, with healthy omega-3 fatty acids. :) I gently sauté the garlic first to mellow its flavor, and toast the pine nuts, tricks which may not be quite traditional, but I think they add a little dimension to the flavor. Tell us about your pesto tips!

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Re: Let's talk about ... Pesto

Postby Karen/NoCA » Mon Sep 03, 2012 9:04 pm

I grow several plants of basil, so I make a lot of pesto, every other year. Right now in my freezer is the standard pesto, a lemon pistachio nut pesto, pesto with hot peppers. Also, pesto with almonds, parsley. Somewhere in there is a cilantro, parsley pesto. All have basil in them. I just have fun with it. I usually grow the typical sweet basil, purple basil, a few types of Thai basil. What ever needs trimming is what I make my pesto from. I am not fond of pine nuts so substitute an array of other nuts. Because we have a lemon tree and I love all things lemon, I believe my favorite is the lemon basil with pistachio nuts. I did a sun dried tomato pesto one year with Genovese basil, parsley, almonds, evoo, and a little almond oil. It was awesome. Garlic comes into play sometimes. This not my year to make pesto, and now I want to!
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Re: Let's talk about ... Pesto

Postby Rahsaan » Mon Sep 03, 2012 9:31 pm

Robin Garr wrote:I gently sauté the garlic first to mellow its flavor, and toast the pine nuts


I do the same. It only seems right.
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Re: Let's talk about ... Pesto

Postby David M. Bueker » Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:45 am

I leave the garlic raw. Laura and I both love the bite it adds to the pesto.

I've made a ton of pesto this year. The CSA has provided copious amounts of basil. Filled two containers of it on Sunday, and poppsed both in the freezer. That left plenty for dinner, which we used to top a sautee of chicken and zucchini instead of pasta.
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Re: Let's talk about ... Pesto

Postby Jo Ann Henderson » Tue Sep 04, 2012 1:56 pm

Just finished my pesto making last week. Made a little over a quart or so of traditional pesto a la Garr. I toast the pine nuts first, but I leave the garlic raw. Everything is in the freezer waiting for future use. I'll use some of it this evening to make pesto-garlic bread. Yum!
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Re: Let's talk about ... Pesto

Postby Bill Spohn » Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:18 pm

Just to be different, I really, really enjoy a variant pesto made in Liguria, using walnuts instead of pine nuts and marjoram instead of basil!

Mind you, you need a LOT of marjoram....(and make sure the walnuts are sweet and fresh)
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Re: Let's talk about ... Pesto

Postby Jenise » Wed Sep 05, 2012 11:16 am

Jo Ann Henderson wrote: I toast the pine nuts first, but I leave the garlic raw.


Ditto! Inspired by this thread and surplus basil, I made rigatoni with pesto for dinner last night. Good as the leftovers are when frozen, there's nothing like the pasta made with the bright green sauce buzzed only seconds before. It's never as good later.
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Re: Let's talk about ... Pesto

Postby David Creighton » Wed Sep 05, 2012 11:19 am

i use almonds instead of pine nuts. seems harder to get pine nuts that aren't slightly rancid. AND for good measure, i keep the almonds frozen.
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Re: Let's talk about ... Pesto

Postby Bill Spohn » Wed Sep 05, 2012 12:33 pm

David, while we can more easily get fresh pine nuts (large Italian community here) I also keep mine in the freezer to lengthen their life. Nothing worse than reaching for nuts and getting that rancid old oil smell and taste (this happens to me most often with walnuts).
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Re: Let's talk about ... Pesto

Postby Jacques Levy » Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:17 pm

I leave the garlic raw but use very little - one small clove (or half a clove)
I do not toast the pine nuts but I will make sure not to use pine nuts from China
I blanch the greens (basil and arugula) for a few seconds in hot water
I add a vitamin C pill to the blender, I read somewhere it prevents oxidation and makes the pesto's green color brighter.
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Re: Let's talk about ... Pesto

Postby Jenise » Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:35 pm

Jacques Levy wrote:I leave the garlic raw but use very little - one small clove (or half a clove)
I do not toast the pine nuts but I will make sure not to use pine nuts from China
I blanch the greens (basil and arugula) for a few seconds in hot water
I add a vitamin C pill to the blender, I read somewhere it prevents oxidation and makes the pesto's green color brighter.


Vitamin C. Really? Have you tested two batches, one with and one without?
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Re: Let's talk about ... Pesto

Postby Jacques Levy » Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:02 pm

Jenise wrote:
Jacques Levy wrote:I leave the garlic raw but use very little - one small clove (or half a clove)
I do not toast the pine nuts but I will make sure not to use pine nuts from China
I blanch the greens (basil and arugula) for a few seconds in hot water
I add a vitamin C pill to the blender, I read somewhere it prevents oxidation and makes the pesto's green color brighter.


Vitamin C. Really? Have you tested two batches, one with and one without?


It does work Jenise, the pesto also preserves its color longer.
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Re: Let's talk about ... Pesto

Postby Paul Winalski » Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:04 pm

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a powerful antioxidant and is often used when making preserves to help preserve the color of the fruit. It's sold in powder form in the baking section of most supermarkets around here. I bought some to add to jars of brine-preserved fresh green peppercorns, a Thai ingredient. I've found that once you open the jar, the peppercorns turn black in a day or two. They still taste the same, but you lose that nice green color. The next time I open a new jar, I'm going to add a teaspoon of ascorbic acid to the jar before I close it and put it in the fridge to see if that prevents the discoloration.

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Re: Let's talk about ... Pesto

Postby Carl Eppig » Fri Sep 07, 2012 1:24 am

We made a very nice pesto tonight with our own green and little purple basil, garlic cloves, freshly grated Pecorino Romono, a little salt, toasted pistachios, EVOO, and a half cup of water from the pot we shocked the basil in. Whirled all in blender. Then cooked the penne in the same pot, and served with broiled sweet Italian sausages.
Last edited by Carl Eppig on Fri Sep 07, 2012 3:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Let's talk about ... Pesto

Postby Robin Garr » Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:34 am

Carl Eppig wrote:... with our own green and little purple basil, garlic cloves, freshly grated Pecorino Romono, a little salt, toasted pistachios, and a half cup of water from the pot we shocked the basil in.

Basil water in place of olive oil? It sounds like a decent non-fat version, but it's hard for me to imagine pesto without the pardon-the-expression EVOO.
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Re: Let's talk about ... Pesto

Postby Jenise » Fri Sep 07, 2012 10:05 am

Paul Winalski wrote:Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a powerful antioxidant and is often used when making preserves to help preserve the color of the fruit. It's sold in powder form in the baking section of most supermarkets around here. I bought some to add to jars of brine-preserved fresh green peppercorns, a Thai ingredient. I've found that once you open the jar, the peppercorns turn black in a day or two. They still taste the same, but you lose that nice green color. The next time I open a new jar, I'm going to add a teaspoon of ascorbic acid to the jar before I close it and put it in the fridge to see if that prevents the discoloration.

-Paul W.


Hmmm...how have I hung around food so long without knowing about using ascorbic acid this way? :) Wonder if/how the acid would work in making pickles? I tend to make refrigerator pickles vs. "cooked" pickles.
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Re: Let's talk about ... Pesto

Postby Fred Sipe » Fri Sep 07, 2012 11:39 am

Ascorbic acid's supposed to do its magic in guacamole too.
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Re: Let's talk about ... Pesto

Postby Mark Lipton » Fri Sep 07, 2012 12:21 pm

Fred Sipe wrote:Ascorbic acid's supposed to do its magic in guacamole too.


It's pretty awesome in citrus fruit, too! :lol:

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Re: Let's talk about ... Pesto

Postby Fred Sipe » Fri Sep 07, 2012 1:00 pm

Mark Lipton wrote:
Fred Sipe wrote:Ascorbic acid's supposed to do its magic in guacamole too.


It's pretty awesome in citrus fruit, too! :lol:

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I know it does a pretty good job at keeping limes green!
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Re: Let's talk about ... Pesto

Postby Carl Eppig » Fri Sep 07, 2012 3:34 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Carl Eppig wrote:... with our own green and little purple basil, garlic cloves, freshly grated Pecorino Romono, a little salt, toasted pistachios, and a half cup of water from the pot we shocked the basil in.

Basil water in place of olive oil? It sounds like a decent non-fat version, but it's hard for me to imagine pesto without the pardon-the-expression EVOO.



Post edited: Sorry the memory's the second thing to go!
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Re: Let's talk about ... Pesto

Postby MichaelB » Wed Sep 12, 2012 7:55 pm

I envy all you folks who use your own basil. I planted some, but the squirrels ate it. However, I’m probably the only one here who picks his own pine nuts. I’ve got about five pounds so far and I’ll get some more this week. I live in rural northeastern Nevada, so what I get is Pinus monophylla. I don’t roast the nuts, at least not until after winter solstice, because they add a resinous quality to the pesto when really fresh. And garlic’s got to be raw! A friend brought me a bunch of “Asiago” cheese from Trader Joe’s and I’m going to use it in my next batch of pesto.
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Re: Let's talk about ... Pesto

Postby Jeff Grossman/NYC » Wed Sep 12, 2012 11:16 pm

MichaelB wrote:I envy all you folks who use your own basil. I planted some, but the squirrels ate it. However, I’m probably the only one here who picks his own pine nuts. I’ve got about five pounds so far and I’ll get some more this week. I live in rural northeastern Nevada, so what I get is Pinus monophylla. I don’t roast the nuts, at least not until after winter solstice, because they add a resinous quality to the pesto when really fresh. And garlic’s got to be raw! A friend brought me a bunch of “Asiago” cheese from Trader Joe’s and I’m going to use it in my next batch of pesto.

Given the price differential between fresh basil and pine nuts, I'd say you're well ahead of the game, MB!

Let us know how the asiago works out for you. (Somehow, I always like it when I'm at the store but it doesn't perform so well when I get it home.)
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Re: Let's talk about ... Pesto

Postby Jenise » Thu Sep 13, 2012 10:29 am

MichaelB wrote: And garlic’s got to be raw! A friend brought me a bunch of “Asiago” cheese from Trader Joe’s and I’m going to use it in my next batch of pesto.


Agreed on the garlic, but then you/I also like raw garlic. Robin does not, so it's not a surprise that he doesn't prefer it that way in pesto. (Nothing wrong with that, mind you, just sayin'....)
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Re: Let's talk about ... Pesto

Postby Brian Gilp » Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:39 pm

MichaelB wrote:I envy all you folks who use your own basil. I planted some, but the squirrels ate it.


I would be happy if the squirels ate my basil if that stopped them from eating my grapes.

WRT Pesto, my wife recently discovered she has a nut allergy so we cut out pine nuts and honestly don't miss them.
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