Yet another entry from the "I Thought It Would Be Gross" files. I first had pesto on a sandwich called St. Basil's Delight at a cute little restaurant in Grand Rapids called The Brittany Cafe. Just down a block or two from my place of employment, "The Brit" was a frequent lunch destination for us. We had plenty of opportunity to try menu items, and I personally wouldn't have ordered this one on my own, but my colleague and roommate, Beth, ordered the St. Basil and let me try a bite. I believe I said something along the lines of, "Basil, where have you been all my life?" or "Humminahumminahummina."
Armed with the knowledge that I liked pesto, I felt confident ordering a pesto dish at another Grand Rapids restaurant, this time the Bistro Bella Vita. Bistro Bella Vita is a little swankier than The Brit, so the fact that the pesto/pasta dish was the cheapest thing on the menu also influenced my decision to order. Thankfully, this combination of roasted chicken, bow tie pasta, toasted pine nuts, and a pesto cream sauce was magically delicious. At that point, having tried pesto in a sandwich and on pasta, and having liked it quite well in both instances, I added pesto to the list of Things I Like to Eat, and began seeking it out.
It was only natural, then, that I would want to try to make my own pesto. This summer, with our garden full to bursting with basil, seemed the perfect time to try it. I used this recipe, and it did not disappoint--I've eaten pesto on various foodstuffs three times in the past week. And with the stockpile of pesto I've already frozen using this recipe, I plan to keep on enjoying it for a long time.
1 garlic clove
1/4 c. pine nuts or walnuts, toasted in a dry skillet
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
2 c. basil leaves
kosher salt and pepper to taste
1/4-1/3 c. olive oil
In the bowl of a food processor, whirl the garlic clove (sometimes I use more cloves if they're small), nuts, cheese, and basil together until it forms a stiff paste. Then, with the blade running, drizzle in the olive oil until it forms a slightly less-thick paste.
Pesto is great on a sandwich or pizza. To use it with pasta, combine it with about 1/2 c. of the pasta cooking water to thin it out a bit, then toss it with the pasta, and serve.
Yum! Give it a try!