All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013
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As you can see HERE – I have posted about a zillion different pesto recipes. Cilantro, collard greens, Swiss chard, broccoli & goat cheese, broccoli rabe & pistachio, dill & almond, spinach & pecan, spinach, spinach & kale, pea pesto and simple kale to name some. Here is what those recipes looked like – not necessarily in the same order.
The reasons for this are that pesto is wicked easy to make, full of flavor & an excellent way to put wilted or less than picturesque produce to use. Pesto can be frozen by putting it into ice cube trays & then, once solid, transferring the cubes to freezer bags with the pesto flavor written on the outside. You could freeze larger portions in mini or regular muffin pans, too.
OK – so – I had a bunch of asparagus that sat in my fridge a tad longer than I had intended. Sometimes my fridge has odd drops in temperature & asparagus is very sensitive to extreme cold. Hence – my spears got a bit soggy looking & several were unsalvageable.
See? It wasn’t happy at all. I had to throw a lot away. But, though it was well past its sell-by date – about half of it was usable for a pesto. So that is what I did.
Also – at my favorite place on Earth – Super King – I got 7 huge bunches of parsley for .99 cents. So – I made a parsley pesto, too. The two recipes will follow. They both go very well on pastas or on pizzas and even work as a condiment on sandwiches so – go nuts. Speaking of nuts, you might notice than none of my pesto recipes use the traditional pine nuts. That is because they go rancid easily & also because they are often from China – a country about 300 years behind us in their food safety regulations. Rancid pine nuts might taste OK but they can give you pine mouth. Here is a bit from the FDA.
“Pine Mouth” and Consumption of Pine Nuts
March 14, 2011
In the past year FDA has received a number of consumer complaints regarding a bitter metallic taste associated with pine nuts. This taste, known as “pine mouth,” typically begins 12 to 48 hours after consuming pine nuts, and lasts on average between a few days and two weeks. It is exacerbated by consumption of any other food during this period and significantly decreases appetite and enjoyment of food. The symptoms decrease over time with no apparent adverse clinical side effects.
In response to increased consumer complaints, FDA developed a detailed questionnaire, and collected and analyzed samples from some consumers submitting complaints. The Agency found that the majority of pine nuts associated with “pine mouth” were eaten in the raw state (either as snacks or as a component of salad or pesto sauce). It also found that consumers did not detect a rancid or off-taste when eating the pine nuts. Finally, FDA was able to confirm that “pine mouth” is an adverse food reaction to pine nuts that is clearly distinct from a typical food allergy.
FDA continues to analyze consumer complaints to identify the potential causes of “pine mouth” and to determine whether the severity of symptoms and likelihood of developing them is related to the amount of pine nuts consumed. FDA will continue to monitor this problem and keep the public posted regarding any new findings.
Consumers experiencing “pine mouth” may contact the FDA District Office in their area. For a list, go to the Consumer Complaint Coordinators page athttp://www.fda.gov/Safety/ReportaProblem/ConsumerComplaintCoordinators/default.htm.
So – that said – I just avoid them altogether. I find them oily & too rich, anyway.
So – without further adieu – I present the two latest pesto recipes.
Asparagus & Basil Pesto
1 bunch of asparagus (or as much as you can salvage from a bunch on its last legs)
1 cup basil
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup Parmesan
4 garlic coves (or to taste)
Hold each asparagus spear by the far ends & bend until they snap. They will naturally break at the point that the spear is too tough to eat. You can then blanch them by dunking them in boiling water for about three minutes & then immersing them in ice water or wrap them in a wet paper towel & microwave them for a minute or two. Chop into 1 inch chunks & set aside.
Toast the walnuts in a dry pan for two or three minutes or until they are fragrant & begin to brown. Stir the entire time & be careful not to burn them. You can see from this photo below – I burned mine.
Then – simply blend everything up in a food processor. You can use more or less olive oil – depending on how thick or thin you prefer your pesto. Then serve it mixed in with some cooked pasta or smear it on a sandwich or pizza!
Parsley Cashew Pesto
I bunch of Italian parsley (flat leaf)
2/3 cup chopped cashews (or almonds or walnuts or pecans – or other nuts)
2/3 cup Parmesan
2/3 cup olive oil
S&P to taste
Toast the cashews (or other nuts) in a dry pan for two or three minutes or until they are fragrant & begin to brown. Stir the entire time & be careful not to burn them. Then simply puree everything in a food processor. Again – serve it mixed in with some cooked pasta or smear it on a sandwich or pizza!