Sunday, October 21, 2012

Eat: Orecchiette with Basil Pesto

The thing about tried and true recipes like bolognese or pesto is that there are a million versions. When you decide to try a new recipe, how do you select from the thousands out there? All these years of recipe experimentation and I had never made my own pesto until just recently. I like pesto enough to eat it at home, but I was willing to settle for the Classico jarred stuff until now (for shame!). Really though... I don't find it half bad for a bottled product. But with an abundance of basil growing and slowly dying on our balcony, I wanted to use up the green manna from heaven (because basil is freaking GOLD!!!) quickly and this was the first recipe that came to mind. I flipped through a ton of cook books, comparing the different versions of pesto until I decided to make Giada De Laurentiis' sauce with some tweaks based on the Barefoot Contessa's version.

You can find the recipe here on the Food Network website. Obviously I only made the pesto and not the Tuna, but I'm sure the combo would be fantastic. My notes & modifications:

  • I went light on the olive oil, closer to 1/2 cup. Use good oil here, aside from the heat generated by the blender, it is a raw sauce.
  • I looked at other recipes and decided to add nearly a cup of cheese as a result. I used a 50/50 mix of grated grana padano and parmigiana reggiano.Choose good quality cheese.
  • I used 4-5 big cloves of garlic. DO NOT COPY ME unless you want to stink like raw garlic at work the next day, even after showering. Next time I'd go closer to 2-3 if the cloves are that big.
  • If your garlic is getting old and has a green center, it has begun to sprout. This will taste especially harsh in a raw sauce like pesto. Take the extra time to cut the clove in half and remove the green sprout if you can't replace it with fresher garlic.
I figured a good, straightforward sauce like homemade pesto deserved a special pasta as it's vehicle into my belly. For this noble cause, I chose a sexy orecchiette covered with tons of surface ridging, perfect for adhering precious sauce. (Sounds vaguely dirty, doesn't it? Good food always does!)

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