It’s been awhile. Four months to be exact. What can I say? Life got in the way? I mean, it did. The company Michael and I run together took off with more work than we could have ever imagined. Not complaining of course. The more work the better, but the busier we got, the more we ate out. The more we ate out, the less I cooked (obviously).
But now I have some free time. Time to study recipes. Time to grocery shop. Time to cook. To create.
Now, how exactly did this free time stumble into my life? …Now would be a good time for feminists to skip to the next paragraph…Trust me, it’s for your own good.
It got really freakin’ hot outside. Blisteringly hot. I might die of heat stroke, hot. And I am not ashamed to let the manly men do the hard, manual labor while I stay inside and cook. Don’t feel bad about it at all, actually.
The scorcher allowed me to ease back into things with a very simple and light recipe. I mean, I gotta knock the rust off somehow. Plus, between you and me, the simplest recipes are the best.
Believe it or not, it’s the simplest recipes that are the hardest to get right. The hardest to perfect. Seasoning is key with the simple because if you don’t get everything just so, the dish falls flat. It’s bland. It’s boring. And we don’t like boring food, do we?
Great. But you still have to have superb ingredients. Just like with the seasoning, if one of the ingredients is subpar, the dish will leave something to be desired.
I know…who would think the simple would be so difficult?
I bet you’re all dying to know what recipe I started back with, aren’t y’all? Just can’t handle the anticipation…
I know. It’s random, but I was browsing through FoodGawker.com and this Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Sandwich caught my eye. I’m a sucker for one of those babies. As is Michael. Perfect for that night’s dinner.
Let’s get back to it, shall we?
THE INGREDIENTS. I could continue to beat a dead horse, but I believe you all understand that only the best will do for this recipe. Fresh or nothing. Seriously. I will not entertain any other nonsense.
- 1 cup Fresh Basil Leaves
- 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup Pine Nuts, toasted
- 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
- 1 pinch Red Pepper Flake
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
THE METHOD. Basically, you just throw everything into a food processor and give it a buzz. Yup. That’s it. It’s not rocket science. Cooking never is.
- Place a small sauté pan over medium heat and throw in your pine nuts. Toast them until they are golden brown and smell delicious. (Fun fact: toasting the nuts brings out their oils and intensifies their flavor).
- In a food processor, place the basil leaves, the garlic, the freshly toasted pine nuts, the cheese, and the red pepper flake. Turn it on and drizzle olive oil until it reaches a consistency of your liking. I prefer a relatively runny pesto so that I can dip bread into it while I wait for dinner to be served. (What else would I do?)
- Season it with salt and pepper.
- Place it into a bowl and set aside. Let the raw ingredients marinate for a bit. At least an hour if not more.
ENJOY IT. The beauty of pesto is that you can serve it in a variety of ways. You can make it into a pasta sauce, you can use it as a spread on a sandwich, you can use it as a dipping sauce. The options are almost endless.
Not only are the options for this particular pesto numerous, but the ingredient options that go into pesto are infinite. Honestly. Those of you who have read my stuff before know that I like to teach the method so that people can go out and create anything that they want. Chefs know methods and understand how ingredients work together and that is why they can create such wonderful dishes. They don’t just have hundreds of recipes memorized (although some might).
You can take this recipe and change it up in any way that you want. You can swap out the leafy green element for kale, parsley, mustard greens, etc…
Pine nuts are expensive. You have my permission to never buy them again. Use pecans, walnuts, almonds…any nut you want.
As for the parmesan, any hard cheese will do. Pecorino Romano, Asiago, Grana Padano (a personal favorite of mine)…
Get creative. That’s what cooking is all about.
Until next time…(which I promise won’t be four months from now).