Tuesday, January 22, 2008

*mortal and pesto.

You heard correctly. The girl who, one day ago, cut her finger (badly) whilst baking cookies (which required no sharp implements of any kind) tonight attempted pesto. I bought a big bag of baby spinach at the grocery last week, which desperately needed using. And, for reasons I can't now explain, I somehow had a bag of walnuts in the larder. But a google search of "spinach-walnut pesto" pretty much just produced a Rachael Ray version. So I guess that's where I heard of it. Still, coming from the inventor of this, I wasn't so sure. NOTE: It took me four minutes to find something that crazy from RR. Sandra Lee took considerably longer. Maybe my threshold for crazy is higher for her, but it bears mentioning.

Anyhoo. I consulted the experts. According to the good old FL of C, pesto is, "Italian for 'pounded' ... an uncooked sauce made with fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan or pecorino cheese, and olive oil." Excellent! I have ... garlic. And Parmigiano-Reggiano and olive oil. That's it. BUT WAIT! Addendum! "Now," it sayeth, "there are 'pestos' made from myriad other ingredients from cilantro to mint." I like cilantro. But cilantro pesto? That's just ... chimichurri. And I see those judgmental quotation marks. Now there are "pestos," you say? I love you, FLC, but you are a stern taskmaster.

So, I returned to my old friend Cooking Light. And look! Mis en place!

OK, crappy mise en place. There are no nuts. I kind of forgot them until the last minute. The recipe calls for four garlic cloves. There are six there. For one thing, me likey the garlic, and for another ... those are some puny-ass garlic cloves. Shameful, really.

This whole endeavor was a vanity project. I wanted to use my adorable new Cuisinart. The momster gave this to me for Christmas. I did lots (read: 11 minutes) of research, and it turns out this particular model is LEAST LIKELY to cut off your hand. How smart am I looking now?

Alas, it was utterly, utterly impotent for this task. See those spinach leaves on top? They had no interest in meeting their doom. And, like the snickerdoodles, they were laughing at me. Woefully, they represent about 15% of the necessary spinach. Tiny Cuisinart was no match. But look! Garlicky goodness!

Cuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuute. But ... argh! Too small. The poor dear. His (ahem) larger friend had to step in and take over. Another first in Chez K: one recipe, TWO dirty Cusinarts. I am nothing if not a record-setter. (In the interest of full disclosure, I did cram tonight's leftovers into Tupperware that had no lid, thus dirtying two separate sets of Tupperware in the effort. One lid is still AWOL.) Into the chute went four-ish cups of baby spinach, the aforementioned garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt, pepper, six tablespoons of olive oil and, oddly, half a cup of warm water. The warm water really gave the whole scenario the texture of baby food. Or ... spinach soup. There may have been some green splatter all over my upper cabinets. I'll never tell. An extra thick bunch of spinach seemed to bring things back to their appropriate consistency. Et voila!

I've never been much of one for the taste of oil. Your average soggy french fry will put anyone off that thick, compressed taste. Like licking the Tin Man. But the rawness of this pesto was really very nice. Fruity and light, and not overly spinachy (a lot of recipes for spinach pesto call for part-spinach, part-basil, to cut spinach's brassiness). I like that mouthy green. It has attitude. Mixed with some hearty spaghetti and cannellini beans, topped with some abjectly forlorn Roma tomatoes and a healthy snowfall of Parmigiano, this was even better than expected.

That's a handmade pasta bowl from Tuscany, courtesy of the paterfamilias. Byooteeful. A full tummy (and a snickerdoodle) later, it was storage time. The serving size for this pesto, according to CL, is 1 tablespoon.


Whew. Sorry. Seriously? One frickin' tablespoon? That's ludicrous. But I did have a lot left over. And I read that a handy way to store it is to freeze the remainder in an ice cube tray. That way you have perfectly portioned pieces for easy defrost later. I've seen Giada recommend it, too, so it has to be smart, right?

Next time I'll aim for "elegant and organized forward-thinker," as opposed to "who threw up in the ice tray?"


Unknown says:
at: 4:51 PM said...

Vomit in an ice cube tray or not you have to be careful about what you blog my dear or I am going to insist you get your butt back up here and cook for us! You got off easy at Thanksgiving as we gave you the day off and fed you an old style northern Thanksgiving complete with all the fat, calories and canned cranberry sauce but the next time I see you I will be eating one of your creations -- you've been warned. B

K. says:
at: 3:25 PM said...

my butt is eager to cook for you any time. i'll bring you some SOUTHERN fat and calories. you yanks won't know what hit you. hear that? those are the hoofbeats of impending coronary.



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I am a work in progress. I perpetually need a hair cut. I'm totally devoted to my remarkable nieces and nephew. I am an elementary home cook and a magazine worker bee. (Please criticize my syntax and spelling in the comments.) I think my dog is hilarious. I like chicken and spicy things. I have difficulty being a grown-up. Left to my own devices, I will eat enormous amounts of cheese snacks of all kinds.