Pesto, Pesto, Pesto

by Fresh and Frugal

SCAPES! Garlic scapes! After being thoroughly disappointed in having missed their brief appearance at the Reading Terminal Market, one of my favorite people on the planet dropped them into the fridge at work for me to pick up. Shana, even though I missed your last day at work because I was sitting in a dank, dark room loading box upon dusty box of old crap onto cart after cart, I am thoroughly thankful. Dinner’s on me when you get back (in my kitchen!).

While I’m relatively sure these scapes are going to make their appearance in pesto-form soon, I haven’t decided what they’re going on, or when. After spending about an hour chopping and shifting and chopping and shifting and chopping s’more a few days ago to try my hand at made-from-scratch sans-processor/blender pesto, I think tonight’s going to yield even more chopping. I’ve two large bunches of parsley I’ve been dying to try to turn into pesto, and now that I have scapes, I’m wondering if they could maybe just replace the garlic, or if I could just nix it altogether from the recipe.

You have to admit, there’s certainly something to be said for parsley. As I mentioned before, I’ve been meaning to incorporate that summery, almost lemony layer to my cooking lately, and what better way than through the majesty of pesto? It sounds silly, I know, but keeping a fresh bunch in a glass of water on the windowsill in the kitchen makes the whole kitchen feel so much more… inviting. It’s too bad it doesn’t come free at the grocery store anymore like it did when I was little. I’ve caught wind of this lovely habit at the forum markets in Italy, where little odori are lovingly tucked into one’s bag of groceries — sometimes a carrot and stick of celery, or a bunch of parsley, sometimes a handful of seasonal herbs. Why can’t people do that here?

By the way, my slight tomato obsession was mentioned to me again today, and I wasn’t sure if it was in distaste or not. Sorry. I’ll try to spice it up a little more, throw in a little more deviation for your benefit in the days to come. Speaking of deviation, I’ve been double-dog-dared to come up with food  that would stay good while backpacking for 2-3 days. I’m deferring until this weekend for ample time to think and see how long things will last before revealing my conclusions. In the mean time, here’s a little homemade pesto to tide you over.

Classic Pesto

2 c packed fresh basil leaves (I mean packed as in jammed into a measuring cup, not packaged)

1/2 c parmesan cheese (grated)

1/2 c pine nuts

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

spaghetti-water, if pesto will be used immediately

Gather a handful of basil and just begin chopping. Chopping, chopping, chopping. Grab another handful, add, and keep chopping. Gradually incorporate the rest of the pesto and keep chopping.

Add the garlic, keep chopping.

Add the pine nuts one small handful at a time. Keep chopping.

Add the (freshly) grated parmesan, keep chopping.

Finally, drizzle a little olive oil over the pesto and mix it in. If the pesto will not be used right away, you could add a little more olive oil to cover the top of it, and then pop in the fridge. If it’s going to be a long while until you use it, divide it into portions in an icecube tray and freeze, then thaw as you need it.

If you want to break up the pesto a little more (it does come out pretty dang thick), save some of the salted water used to boil your pasta, and mix it into your pesto little by little until it’s reached the desired consistency.

Also, I’ve heard rumors that freezing cheese isn’t always the best option. The next time I make my pesto, I’m leaving out the parm from the mix I’m freezing, then mixing it in as I thaw my pesto-cubes. Just an idea. Lets see what happens.

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