Friday, May 11, 2012

Purple pesto

The slugs ate my first three basil plants in record time. I've set out another dozen, and am amusing myself in the meantime by making alternative pestos. They're great because a) they use up lots of whatever herbs need pruning and b) I end up with intensely flavored goodness that I can toss into whatever I'm cooking.

This week, I had an excess of Red Orach (a.k.a. Hillbilly Spinach). Its flavor isn't as intense or distinct as the herb-heavy pestos I made last week, but it made a nice base for the usuals -- garlic, parmesan, pine nuts, olive oil -- with a bright hit of meyer lemon (zest and juice). 

Of couse, the best part is that it's purple, and will turn your noodles magenta.

Red Orach, aka Hillbilly Spinach. I've found it to be a great garden producer -- I keep cutting, it keeps growing back. Pretty heat-tolerant, bug-resistant, and tasty raw or cooked (though it gets bitter once it goes to seed).

Washed, stemmed, and stuffed into the Cuisinart. Started with about 1/2 the leaves, gave them a few pulses with the rest of the ingredients, then added the rest.

Added the zest and juice from 2 Meyer Lemons. Probably could have gotten away without the zest, but it's nice sprinkled on top of the final dish. 

Also added some Golden Oregano -- skipped the darker green herbs to keep the color bright.

Plus the standards: extra-virgin olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan cheese. (Also some salt & pepper.)

Pulsed everything together, stirring and scraping down the sides as needed.

The finished pesto

Pink pasta, for kids whose dinners aren't surreal enough already. Mashed into potatoes would also be fun.   

It's also absurdly good on bread. (Semifreddi's Sweet Batard)

It freezes really well. Unless you're really good with an icepick, I'd recommend freezing it in ice cube trays, those little single-serving lidded freezer containers you have leftover from back when you made all your own baby food, or...

Put it in a big plastic zip-lock bag, flatten it, and press it gently against the wire mesh in your freezer drawer. Then...

It will freeze into nice squares, making it easy to snap off as many as you need. I also do this with cookie dough sometimes.