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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.  😉

Enjoy!

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  • Jennie Robinson

    I am making this today!!! I am so excited but a little nervous!!! Wish me luck!