Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Roasted and Toasted Pesto

I make pesto pretty frequently. It's easy to throw together, pretty cheap, and makes whatever you put it on taste better. I do, however, get a little bored with the same old formula from time to time. Today I decided to try to "turn up the volume," as our friend Ina Garten would say (I know! Yet another Barefoot Contessa reference... sorry!!!) on my basic pesto. Adding roasted cloves of garlic and toasting the pine nuts really upped the flavor, and was worth the extra effort.

Here's the recipe for the new and improved pesto:
  • 1 head of roasted garlic
  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1-2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 3-5 tbs. olive oil
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
First, roast the garlic. Turn your oven up to 350 degrees. Peel the paper off the whole head of garlic as much as you can. Cut of the top part of the garlic, so a little bit of each clove is exposed. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, wrap in foil, and roast in the oven for about an hour, or until the head feels squishy when squeezed with an oven mitt. Remove from the oven and let cool for 25 minutes or so before proceeding with the pesto.

Preheat a dry frying pan on your stove for a few minutes. Throw the pine nuts in the pan and move them around every 30 seconds or so until they are nicely toasted. Watch them closely, they can go from perfect to burned in seconds!
While you let the pine nuts cool, carefully squeeze out each clove from the head of garlic. You can use a fork to help the process along, being careful to remove all bits of the papery skin. Put cloves in the food processor with basil leaves, salt and pepper and lemon juice. Process until it becomes a thick paste. Add pine nuts and process again.

Once everything is combined, keep the processor going while you drizzle in the olive oil, one t
sp. or so at a time until it is the thickness you desire. Taste and re-season as needed with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Enjoy on your favorite whole wheat pasta, as a base for pizza, on a sandwich, etc...

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