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Sure sign of Summer: Dreaming of Pesto!
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Dairy_Queen



Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Chicago and other places

PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2005 12:29 am    Post subject: Sure sign of Summer: Dreaming of Pesto! Reply with quote

All this talk in Erin's thread about Herbs got me hungering for pesto and the deep, green taste of it. Also, Sally's roommate, Pam, made some last night, at a dear, dear cost to her pocketbook. No 3 foot tall plants in the garden to harvest from, she had to buy three $3.00 packets of basil from Whole Foods, and that was only part of the ingredients.

However, poor Pam has "alledgedly" multiple Food Allergies Rolling Eyes and has to make her pesto 'vegan'. The poor girl chopped, ground, added, blended....and came out with a FLORESCENT GREEN goo, that reeked of mint, and tasted like the Dead Sea! Shocked An hours worth of work, $20.00 worth of materials, and after two bites, the goo hit the fan...well...the trash can, so to speak.

She had found a recipe for Vegan Pesto, that used equal portions of Mint and Basil, no nuts and I don't know what else; all I can say,is that it was some of the most vile stuff I've ever voluntarily placed in my mouth. Mad

So, when I came home, I dug out my trusty 30 year old recipe for pesto, and the only thing that Pam needed to delete was the 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese.

I did an Online Search for Vegan Pesto, and found, of course, 100's of hits. Some were identical to my original recipe, but only deleted the cheese, some of them, used brown rice miso, chick peas, ?nutritional yeast?, or ?agar-agar?.

Has anyone else made a basil pesto with any of the above? I don't know all of the ingredients that Pam used that made it so horribly salty, so it may have been the miso or yeast or agar-agar (which makes me think of fruit fly experiments! Shocked )

Do you add other ingredients beside basil? Parsley, mint, (I've even see spinach suggested in recipes.)

What about walnuts (which I HATE)? In my search I saw pestos with pine nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pistachios, and almonds added.

Here's my pesto recipe, which has been passed around to all my friends throughout the years.

CLASSIC PESTO

3 Cups of Fresh Basil (tightly packed)

4-5 Large Cloves of Garlic

1/3 Cup of Toasted Pine Nuts

1/3 Cup of Olive Oil

1/3 Cup of Parmesan cheese, grated

1) Place toasted pine nuts in food processor and pulse until coarsely ground.

2) Add the basil leaves and garlic and blend well.

3) Drizzle in the olive oil as you keep the machine running, and add the grated Parmesan cheese.

*Add small layer of olive oil to top of pesto to keep green and extend it's life to 2 weeks.


(Sidenote: I was at a recipe site, where a poster wrote in, complaining of the "horrible, dirt-tasting pesto" that they had created from the posted recipe. They said that it was "inedible, smelled bad and tasted worst". Oh.....and they also said, "Did I put in too much dried basil?"

The recipe poster just replied, "YUK! You need to use FRESH basil, NOT DRIED!"
)
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2005 1:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pine nuts but no mint for me. I like a bit of finely chopped sundried tomato at the end as well. And garlic.

I also love tabouli which does employ that mint but with bulgar and with parsley instead of the basil.
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simona



Joined: 11 Mar 2005
Posts: 696
Location: israel

PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2005 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

At my old and venerable age, and after many bizerre experments with food concoctions -" originality" was the main purpose then!- I arrived to the conclusion that classic recipe for classic foods are the best. So DQ, I do exactly the same pesto as yours- italian classic recipe- and it works. The only differrence is that I don't measure the ingredients: I put basil, and olive oil, garlic and salt until it my buds say OK. then, of course, pine-nuts ( walnuts are too agressive) and parmesan. For pasta, I dillute the pesto with cream . And then I feel sooooo guilty. So I sprinkle some more parmesan. It does not matter as far as my guilt is concerned, but it's delicious.
Another pesto i do, ( pesto means paste I believe) is sundried tomatoes, soaked and drained, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. It's fine with toasts as an appetizer.
As for Tabbouleh, Rainey, is staple food in our house ( we do live in the Middle east of course): I use couscous or burgul( the original ingredient) and add a lot, but really a lot of chopped parsley, chopped fennel leaves ( I hope that's what they are called), finely chopped tomato ( non-peeled), finely chopped scalions, olive oil and lemon juice, salt of course. It has to be as green as possible, sais a friend, whose parents are from Lebanon.
Good morning to you all, it's a new week here, and Thursday we'll have a huge barbecue on my small lawn, to celebrate our 57th independence Day. Have a good week all of you,

No more war, no more war, no more war!
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simona



Joined: 11 Mar 2005
Posts: 696
Location: israel

PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2005 7:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's me again: It's dill I meant ( not femmel leaves) for the tabbouleh. Sorry,

Simona
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JustMe



Joined: 13 Apr 2005
Posts: 213
Location: Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2005 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DQ: I think the recipe you posted is a tried & true one, just 5 ingredients. I think pesto is on my list of top ten favourite tastes. I sometimes make it & freeze it in ice cube trays and since I don't usually have enough from my own garden I wait until you can buy huge bunches from the farmers market for a dollar or two.

The little basil that I do grow in my garden I froze last year in ice cube trays with some olive oil: they made great additions to soups, etc. through the winter.
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Dairy_Queen



Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Chicago and other places

PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2005 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JustMe: Lord knows where I found that classic recipe, over 30+ years ago. I didn't have Joy of Cooking then, if it's in there, and the MidWest of America sure wasn't what it is now in regards to Adventures in Food. I'm glad to know that it IS a classic and that I haven't steered my friends wrong. I first had pesto in Italy, when my husband and I drove the entire country during a business holiday of his. Pesto and sun-dried tomatoes are my fondest memories of the trip.

I agree with the "walnuts" in pesto; too strong, too astringent. When I first made this, years ago, I had to mail order to get the pine nuts; there wasn't a store in Minneapolis or Chicago that sold them. How things have changed!

JustMe: have you tried the various basils, since I see that BASIL is your favorite herb? It's a real tie, between standard basil and cinnamon basil, as to which I love the most. Although I find the spice cinnamon cloying and used to DEATH in America, I find the softer flavour of cinnamon basil just perfect.

Here's a tea bread recipe that I make every year: I've used both Cinnamon Basil and it's sister, Lemon Basil, in it and it's incredible. And I'm totally 'with you' on waiting until I can get HUGE hunks of basil at the Farmer's Markets for a couple of bucks; no matter how many plants I grow, I can't grow enough for the pesto demands that I make. One of my best clients has me plant 22 basils, per year, for her (don't know why it's exactly 22?, but that's what she wants). Along with tomatoes, peppers, thyme and oregano, she has 6 whiskey barrels along side the house, jammed with basil. The conditions are flawless for it's growth and by August, it's over 4 feet HIGH! She grows so much she gives it away to her family....hey! maybe that's why she wants so much?!

Anywho, here's the tea bread recipe:

FLAVOURED BASIL TEA BREAD

1/3 Cup of Melted Unsalted Butter

1 Cup of Sugar

2 Large Eggs

1/4 teaspoon of EITHER almond flavouring for LEMON BASIL or vanilla flavouring for CINNAMON BASIL.

1 1/2 Cups of All Purpose Flour

1 teaspoon of Baking Powder

1/2 Cup of Milk

2 Tablespoons of TIGHTLY PACKED Lemon Basil or Cinnamon Basil

1 Tablespoon of Grated Lemon Peel for Lemon Basil; Orange Peel for Cinnamon Basil

3 Tablespoons of Fresh Lemon Juice for Lemon Basil; Orange Juice for Cinnamon Basil

2 Tablespoons of Sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, blend together the butter and the cup of sugar.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the flavouring of choice.

Sift the flour and baking powder into the egg mixture, alternately adding the milk.

Fold in the basil leaves (cinnamon or lemon) and the matching grated peel. Stir to blend.

Turn the batter into a greased 8 x 4 loaf pan. Bake for 60 minutes, or until the loaf tests done in the center. Remove the loaf from the oven, and place on rack to cool.

Meanwhile, mix together the lemon or orange juice and the 2 tablespoons of sugar in a small bowl. Prick the top of the bread with a toothpick or fork in several places, then pour the juice/sugar mixture over the loaf.
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
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PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2005 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

simona- Just love tabouleh. Have you ever tried soaking your bulgar in lemon juice? YUM!
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Dairy_Queen



Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Chicago and other places

PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2005 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's a lot of fig lovers at this site, so I decided to share this recipe. It's a standard for me and never fails to impress the socks (or false teeth) off of anyone who tries it!

SUMMER BERRIES AND FIGS WITH HONEY-BASIL CREAM

Honey-Basil Cream:

1 Pint of Heavy Cream
1/2 Cup of Water
2 Tablespoons of Honey (I love Tupelo)
1 Cup of finely chopped fresh Cinnamon Basil leaves (you can use normal basil, but I like it this way, with the cinnamon basil)
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract

Figs and Berries:

1 Pint of Balck Mission Figs, trimmed and halved, or quartered if large
1/2 Pint of Strawberries, stemmed and halved
1/2 Pint of Raspberries
1/2 Pint of Blackberries

To make the Honey-Basil Cream: Place the cream, water and honey in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently to prevent the mixture from boiling over. Add the basil and reduce the heat to moderate; cook for 20 minutes or until the cream is thick and pale brown. Remove from heat, add vanilla and mix well. Strain through a fine sieve and transfer to a small saucepan to keep warm until ready to use.

Combine figs and berries in a large bowl, mix gently. Arrange in serving dishes and drizzle the warm Honey-Basil Cream over them. Garnish with sprigs of basil and serve immediately.

Serves 4, maybe 6 if you serve wee portions
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simona



Joined: 11 Mar 2005
Posts: 696
Location: israel

PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2005 6:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rainey, I use more couscous than bulgur, it's less rough. I usually soak it in 1 cup of boiling water ( for 350 g couscous)+ 2 spoons of olive oil and some lemon juice. I add more lemon juice later. But it is a good idea , i'll try, i don't like it too lemony so i'll begin with a small quantity to experiment.
As for pesto, inspired by this post and after realizing that my home-made pesto supply was nil, I went to the Tel Aviv Market today, one of the best in the country . I bought about 100 romanian kebobs and about 30 steaks for the upcoming barbrcue party on the independence day. But more important, I also bought 5 enormous bunches of fresh basil ( for about 3.5 US$ all) , 250 g pine-nuts and parmesan ( I was out of everything after the Passover feasts). So tomorrow is pesto day, and I'll think of all of you, lovers of Basil ( see Herbs forum) and pesto.

No more war, more pesto!
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Dairy_Queen



Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Chicago and other places

PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2005 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

simona: Aw-w-w-w, behold the POWER of Suggestion!

First, I LOVE how you change your signature: "No more war, more.....", with each post! It's something that I look forward to reading, all the time.

Second, I'm glad that this thread and the herb one inspired you to make a bucket of pesto....you are sooooooo lucky that you have it to buy, in bulk, at this time of year. Our basil plants, at the nursery, are terrified that gardeners are actually going to plant them this early, so that they can be frost-bitten or die of cold. One of the blessings of Summer: cheap tomatoes and basil.

Good Luck on Pesto Day and the upcoming Independence Day!
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Bekbeka



Joined: 17 Mar 2005
Posts: 108
Location: France

PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2005 9:22 pm    Post subject: more pesto ideas Reply with quote

Hi - I'm just adding in my two cents worth as I've been on a big pesto making mission lately after finding a fantastic source of cheap herbs at the Sunday Chinese market. Coriander makes great pesto - I tend to use slightly different quantities than with basil, and just do it to taste. I have also made a parsley and mint version that was great - I think this is referred to as winter pesto (it feeling very much like winter here already), and I'll make another lot today with my new purchases. I tried toasted sunflower seeds, which were ok - & definitely cheaper than pine nuts - the taste is slightly stronger & not as smooth, but not too bad an approximation.
It never ceases to amaze me that however great a quantity of herbs you use it produces such a small amount!
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Dairy_Queen



Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Chicago and other places

PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2005 10:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bekbeka: I'm so glad for your feedback; I've been waiting for someone to post who's tried the various versions and was willing to write about them.

Pam's version for sure had mint and basil, and I don't know what else, but the ONLY flavour that came through was Salty Mint! You have to really, REALLY hate something to throw it all away after $20 and 2 hours of work!

I can see, however, mint and parsley being a nice combination. And also, I'm very, very curious to try pistachio nuts in a standard pesto.

On the vegan sites, it also listed garbanzo beans and nutritional yeast as ways to make it "cheesy"; I don't know, if you can't eat the real thing, why bring in creepy substitutes? Just pesto without the cheese is nice.

I'm glad that you added to the depth of pesto experience. Smile

I wanted to find out more about pesto, as a food, and found out this interesting ancient history. Geez, I thought pesto was a food from the 70's. Go figure.

"The sauce that has made the region of Liguria famous the world over is named after its method of preparation: pestatura or grinding of leaves and other ingredients in the traditional marble murtà (mortar) with a wooden pestellu (pestle).


Pesto is most probably a descendent of the medieval garlic sauces or agliate, which were in turn descended from the ancient Romans’ garum, an ever-present condiment made from fish steeped in salt and aromatic herbs. All these sauces were always accompanied by agresto (the juice of unripe grapes), vinegar, orange juice or wine; they were not oily sauces, containing no fats of either animal origin (such as butter) or vegetable origin (olive oil).

Olive-oil based pesto may be considered the oldest oily sauce in gastronomic history.

The first documented mention of a sauce which could be the ancestor of today’s pesto appears in Virgil’s Bucoliche: the peasant Similo dines on focaccia spread with moretum, a sauce made of coriander, rue, parsley and cacio cheese ground in a mortar and bound together with olive oil. It doubtlessly originated in the east, where sauces were commonly made with pine nuts mixed with a tart cheese which acted as a binder holding the various ingredients together. When cheese was replaced by olive oil in its binding function, other, harder types of cheese could be used, such as pecorino or grana.

Basil was a much later addition to the recipe in which it was to become the most important ingredient. The plant was imported to Europe from Asia Minor, and found its best habitat in Liguria and Provence. Its very name declares the value of the plant: from the Latin Ocimum Basilicum (in turn derived from Greek) signifying "regal perfume".

For centuries basil was attributed magical virtues in addition to the properties that made it so valuable in the kitchen, so that it had to be gathered in accordance with sacred, codified rituals. Reflections of this aura of magic survive in the choice of tools (marble mortar and wooden pestle) and the patient manual process of its preparation. For the leaves must not be ground roughly (for they contain the essential oils which give basil its flavour in their organules); the pestle must be turned gently so that the leaves are torn rather than cut. The task must be performed at room temperature and must not take too long, to avoid oxidation.

The pesto recipe took the form we know in the mid-nineteenth century: the recipe first appears in writing in the Ratto brothers’ 1865 Cuciniera genovese, where it is described as a "mince of garlic and basil" and used as a sauce with which "to dress all varieties of pasta". The correct method for conservation of the leaves, which were the most important ingredient but were not available at all times of year, was also specified in the recipe: in a vase or arbanella, covered with olive oil, "sealed with a parchment lid tied on with string".

The best pesto is made from young leaves from plants less than two months old, which must be broken up along with the garlic by tearing it in the mortar. To these ingredients is added Ligurian extra virgin olive oil (sweet and delicate, so that it does not overpower the flavour of the basil), pine nuts and grated cheese (preferably grana and pecorino in the correct ratio).

There are now many different versions of the recipe for pesto, which often contain less garlic, supposedly to make the sauce easier on the digestion; though cutting down on the garlic too much results in a sauce lacking vigour.

Varieties of pasta eaten with pesto include troffie, trofiette, trenette avvantaggiae, mandilli de saea and even u menestrun, Genoese minestrone. Pesto can be stored for a few days provided it is covered with a layer of olive oil.
"
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Lady Amalthea



Joined: 18 Dec 2004
Posts: 136
Location: New York City

PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2005 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DQ, after your history lesson, I'm intrigued. I was getting mighty distressed that I have no food processer out here (and don't want to buy one as then it will be for the European plugs) and all this reading about pesto made me want some. However, now I'm thinking doing all that by hand is a lot of work. Hm.

I usually put a little bit of mint in my pesto to give it a nice lift. But not so much that it overpowers the basil flavor. And always pine nuts. Pistachios are a nice idea and in keeping with the green color theme.

Rainey, your fig salad sounds great. I love basil used with sweets. I may make that tomorrow if I can find nice figs and berries.
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madameshawshank



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Penrith (where jacarandas remind me of change), New South Wales, Australia

PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2005 10:55 pm    Post subject: 12 months of the year basil Reply with quote

A dear dear Italian friend of mine gave me a piece of her basil plant....it's an all year 'round one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and since we only get sort of frosts...a couple of whoppers each year, the plant which grew like crazy...seems to not mind. So my jealous chocolate and zucchiniers, moi has fresh basil 12 months of the year!

'n I agree with DQ about Simona's quotes!...a copyable idea methinks...or is that copiable..both look funny Wink
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2005 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lady Amalthea wrote:
Rainey, your fig salad sounds great. I love basil used with sweets. I may make that tomorrow if I can find nice figs and berries.


No, no! I have the fig tree (or what remains of it...). Dairy_Queen gave us the recipe. Wink

I'm hoping the figs on my remaing trunk will ripen soon so I can try that salad before I have to do massive cutting back of branches to try to balance out what's left and, perhaps, save it.
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