Every so often, a friend re-introduces me to a dish I thought I didn’t like. Pesto was one of those dishes – the only other time I’d had it, it was so strong and overpowering that I figured all pesto was not for me. Plus, there was the green-colour-thing; I’m not a fan of guacamole (at all) – mostly because of the texture, but partly because of the colour, too.
Geneva changed all of that for me. She’s a delightful friend and loves to experiment in the kitchen – possibly as much as I do. We had dinner with G and her husband, Jeff, a few months ago and she surprised us with pesto over penne pasta with asparagus and a few other delightfully crisp veggies tucked in for good measure. Brendan cleaned his plate (not once, but twice!) and I was delighted that it wasn’t like the pesto of long ago.
Geneva’s secret is roasting the garlic for a while – she recommended in a frying pan on medium heat, but I also found that if I cut the tops of the garlic cluster off (just a little bit), I could roast it in the oven at 300F for quite a while and not have to babysit it like roasting it on the stove. The garlic sweetens like I’d never experienced before when roasted – there’s no pungency or bitterness at all in properly-roasted garlic. Who knew? I’ve successfully made this recipe twice since having it prepared for me – one serving was for dinner guests, and the other is currently in the freezer, awaiting the day when I have no idea what to make and failed to make a menu plan for the week. Sometimes it happens. What can I say?
As a result of this recipe, I’m also planning a large section of basil in the garden this year – so I need to get to seed-starting. 😉
Geneva’s Classic Pesto
- 3 garlic cloves, paper skins intact
- 2 cups fresh packed basil
- ½ c. olive oil
- ¼ c. toasted pine nuts, walnuts, or almonds
- ¼ c. grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt/pepper to taste
Toast the garlic in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant and spotty brown (about 7 minutes). Cool garlic before peeling. Combine the peeled garlic, basil, cooled nuts, and Parmesan in blender for smoother consistency – drizzle in oil through top of blender as ingredients combine for greatest amount of oil-emulsification and creamiest finished product. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Yield: ¾ c. pesto, enough for 1 lb. pasta, cooked. For added protein content, add in cooked, cubed chicken or canellini beans. Delicious with steamed asparagus tossed with the pasta and covered in pesto – guaranteed to get my child to invite himself over to your home for dinner and to get him to lick the plate. 😉