Friday, August 12, 2011

Pesto two ways

One of my favorite summertime eats is definitely basil pesto.  Kent's Auntie Kay taught us how to make pesto a few summers ago while we were in North Carolina and we've been enjoying it ever since.

This summer, we went to a wine bar in Asheville called Sante, and had an array of tapas which included chunky pesto with a ricotta (the cheese usually found in ravioli and lasagna) base.  I knew I was going to have to try to duplicate it.  

Pesto is definitely one of my favorite accessories to pasta, crackers and pizza.  Although, it does tend to camp out in your teeth.  

This first pesto is the original green pesto.  It is very simple to make.  You will need a food processor or blender. 

  • You will need:
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic or 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup nuts (I used sliced almonds, you can use any nuts but most people use pine nuts)
  • 2/3 cup olive oil, divided
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 
Put almonds in a sauce pan (no oil is needed because you are just going to toast them until they become golden)

Then put all of the ingredients into the blender or food processor.  Blend until desired consistency, mine was pretty smooth but If you like pesto with texture, don't blend it as long. 

The good thing about pesto is you can add and take away to make it how you like it.  There are many different versions of pesto.  This recipe makes about 1/2 cup of pesto.  

If you have never made pesto before, it does tend to turn a dark greenish/brown color on top, do not be alarmed, it is still good.  

There are many ways in which one can indulge in pesto.  Here are my favorite ways: 
-On Crackers
-Mix it with whipped cream cheese for a creamy dip.
-Green pizza, put it on pizza dough with garlic, grilled chicken and your favorite cheese
-Put the pesto on any pasta for a fresh easy meal.  We like to saute zucchini and squash, grill chicken (or use rotisserie) and throw over a bed of bow tie pasta bathed in pesto.  

The ricotta Pesto is a more creamy and nutty pesto.  The ingredients are very similar. 

The ingredients are:

  • 1/2 cup black walnuts (toasted, just as the almonds in the previous recipe)

  • tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • tablespoon minced garlic

  • 1 1/2 cups basil leaves

  • 15 oz ricotta cheese (whole-milk ricotta cheese)

  • tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • zest of 1 lemon

  • Put 3 tablespoons olive oil, basil, toasted walnuts, garlic and parmesan in food processor or blender until smooth.  

    Then add the salt, pepper, ricotta, remaining olive oil and lemon zest. 

    Blend until smooth.  You may have to add more salt and pepper, I had to add quite a bit more salt. 

    I mixed the ricotta pesto with freshly cooked orzo and it made a creamy sauce (the picture is at the very top of the page). This was the first time I have ever made this recipe, and I will definitely make it again.  It was delicious! 

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