Comments: Pesto


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!

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.

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.

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!

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.

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!

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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