Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Presto (faux) Pesto
I've never made pesto. It's really weird when I think about it because it's the ultimate easy pasta sauce--it doesn't even need cooking. Just blitz everything in the food processor and serve. So, it's a bit odd that I wouldn't have tried to make it even once, but for a long time I told myself that I didn't like it. It turns out that isn't true. After all, it has garlic, olive oil and pine nuts in it--what's not to like? Evidently, basil is what's not to like. It's not that I don't like it, but I always found the amount of it a bit overwhelming. I've recently seen tons of recipes for alternative pestos (which I know are not really pestos) that seemed really appealing to me. The springtime is a particularly great time to play with new pesto flavors since there are so many wonderful herbs in season like chives, tarragon and thyme.
Pesto is also an excellent way to give life back to herbs and greens that are on their last legs. It's annoying when herbs or greens are still good but tend to look a bit limp. This way, they won't go to waste and you still get the benefit of their flavor. I had some incredibly sad looking spinach sitting in my fridge this week and decided to throw in some fresh chives. I went with traditional pesto ingredients for the rest (except for a few teaspoons of vinegar) and I had a delicious faux pesto. I still had a few heirloom new potatoes from the farmer's market leftover so I decided to mix those up with some of this mock pesto instead of whipping up some more pasta (which I'd already had a ton of earlier in the week). I just boiled the potatoes and then tossed them in the pesto, but oven roasting would be delicious as well (it was too hot in my apartment to deal with having the oven on). Here's what I used, but definitely experiment with your favorite herbs and greens:
New Potatoes with Spinach and Chive "Pesto"
8-9 new potatoes, cut into quarters
1 1/2 cups spinach
1/3 cup pine nuts (I toasted mine in the oven for a few minutes)
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup olive oil (you may not need all of it)
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
pinch of salt
1. Cook potatoes in a large pot of salted water until tender.
2. Combine all of the remaining ingredients (except for olive oil) in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Slowly stream in olive oil until desired consistency is reached.
3. Combine potatoes with half of the pesto mixture and top with the some of the remaining pesto and grated Parmesan and pine nuts.