Sounds delicious, Barrett - I haven't made pesto in years but now is certainly the season. The only small thing I do differently is to toast the pine nuts a little in a dry frying pan before adding them; it brings out the nuttiness a little more.
As for those days on Seminary, I remember the basil garden well as it was the only time in my life I have successfully managed to grow it in such quantitites. I guess Chicago summers are ideal for basil! As I recall it, though, I was trying unsuccessfully to reproduce Leona's spinach and basil pesto and tried so often that you and the ex-girlfriend/ex-friend eventually rebelled and refused to eat any more pesto. Ever. Glad to see the damage wasn't permanent!
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I don't remember swearing off pesto, but I can certainly believe I did it in my foolish youth. We did tend to be single minded about dinner choices in that house.
And by "we" I think you know who I mean.
July 25, 2004 2:47 PM
Meg, do you toast the nuts in a dry pan or do you use oil?
I'm growing some nice basil on my patio. I'm just worried that that the heat will kill it off.
July 26, 2004 9:14 AM
I toast them dry. They don't burn as suddenly and unexpectedly as sesame seeds but you have to watch them too.
As for killing off the basil, I think that as long as you give them loads of water they can stand almost any amount of heat. Chicago is a lot hotter and more humid than Paris and I think that's why it grows better there. Then again, what do I know? I have only grown it successfully once!
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Thanks for the mortar and pestle inspiration, Barrett! I am committing to try it the next time I make pesto. I usually make it in a food processor, and for some reason have been a little intimidated by the traditional method. I remember reading that when someone wants to work at Chez Panisse, Alice Waters tests them by making them make pesto by hand for something like forty people.
July 26, 2004 5:39 PM
From my own brief experience, I can tell you that if I took the Alice Waters test, I'd end up with forearms like Popeye.
It's hard work, but well worth it!
July 27, 2004 1:17 PM
My second effort making pesto, but first with mortar & pestle, looks, smells & tastes outstanding. Next time I will definitely chop down the garlic first, it takes the most time and is the hardest to reduce down.
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