Saturday, August 21, 2010

Toasted Walnut Pesto

One of my favorite things to make (and eat) is pesto. When I was studying at the Universite de Grenoble in France, we took a side trip to Italy. Our first stop was in Genoa where we had a lavish meal and I had my first taste of pesto. Wonderful stuff!

When I came home, the store bought brands were a sad substitute. Years later, I began growing my own basil and making pesto. I prefer pesto with traditional pine nuts, but toasted walnuts taste great, too.

Although I am precise with measurements when baking, I am one of those cooks who tosses in handfuls of ingredients and tastes to determine when a dish is finished. Use the best quality olive oil you can find. I like the flavor of toasted walnut oil; The Olive Tap sells it in downtown DG. It is a great buy and tastes amazing in homemade walnut raspberry vinaigrette.

Here are the ingredients I use with "loose" amounts:

2 cups fresh basil, washed

1/4-1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted

1/4-1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano (NO canned parm. allowed-EVER!)

2-3 cloves garlic

1/2-1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1-2Tbs. toasted walnut oil (optional)

Copious amount of salt (French sea salt or kosher)

I place everything into the clear cilander that came with my hand blender. Blend all and taste. Add salt as you taste; thin with oil. Adjust seasoning keeping in mind that basil varies in its peppery flavor and the cheese greatly varies in saltiness.

Let stand a bit then toss with hot pasta. Shave or grate a litle of the cheese on the pasta.

Tonight we are eating it with farfalle and broiled heirloom tomatoes from the garden.