Thursday, September 17, 2015
Pesto, without the nasty cleanup
I love pesto, but I loathe the mess. Typically, I dump the ingredients--basil leaves, oil, garlic, pine nuts (or walnuts), salt and pepper into the food processor, give it a whir, rearrange the leaves several times, and repeat until I get a nice "paste" of tiny basil bits suspended in the oil. (I typically add the Parmesan cheese later, because I often make enough to freeze, and pesto laden with Parmesan doesn't freeze well--or so I've heard). But the result is an oily food processor with those tiny basil bits splattered all over the food processor parts--a chore to clean up.
So it was with great excitement that I read the following lines from one of the e-mail blasts from Kitchen Gardeners International (KGI): "My preferred "presto with little mess-to" method is using a stick blender which I find easier to wash up and less wasteful than a food processor." I assumed that a "stick blender" was British for an immersion blender, and was game to try this.
I found the method worked best by turning the blender on and stirring it around the bowl to make sure to capture all the basil. The stirring was the same motion you'd use for stirring anything else in a bowl. After about a minute or so, I had a nice creamy pesto sauce, which I added to the homemade pasta dug out of the archives in the freezer (May 2015). and topped with some grated Parmesan cheese.
So thank you KGI! And thanks for the video showing how to make TRUE pesto as done in Genoa, with a mortar and pestle. (And if you need a pesto recipe, the proportions there are as good as any). Some day I will try this, but until then, I'm sold on the stick-blender method.
Also, a by-the-way shoutout to KGI. If you're at all into gardening, or think you might want to be into gardening if only you knew what to do, this is a must-have resource. They have a great website with articles and videos. But best of all have an online garden planner that lets you lay out your garden and it generates a planting schedule and shopping list. It also keeps track of what you've planted for next year, so you can take advantage of succession planting concepts. It costs $25 per year once you've used up your free month, but it's well worth it. ESPECIALLY because they plow the money back into all sorts of good causes. Last year, they gave grants to 200 community gardens around the world in their Sow it Forward Food Garden Grants!