June 4, 2009
The more time I spend in my kitchen making simple things like bread, salad dressings or hummus I wonder why I ever bothered buying these things from the supermarket. Okay, I don’t wonder; most of the time making my own kitchen staples didn’t occur to me. And when it did, I was lazy about getting into the kitchen and actually doing it.
It didn’t take long before I realized that taking a few extra minutes to whirl some ingredients through the food processor or blender was well worth the extra effort. Fresh, homemade anything trumps processed, packaged and store-bought any day.
Last weekend we had friends coming over and I decided to make our favorite, Friday Night Pizza for dinner, subbing this fresh, homemade pesto for the 1/2 cup of pizza sauce I normally use. Taking that five extra minutes to whip up the pesto made all the difference on our pizza (and the gnocchi I drizzled it over a couple of days later).
While we were in Iceland I picked up a jar of garlic cloves that had been packed in hot chili oil. I threw a couple of these in to the mix which gave the pesto and the pizza a little kick. But, of course, regular old garlic cloves would work just as well.
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cooking School
Makes about a cup
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups loosely packed spinach
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1/4 teaspoon course salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil (this is one of those times to use your best-quality EVOO)
1. Preheat oven to 350F to toast the pine nuts. Spread nuts on a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until nuts are lightly golden. Transfer to a plate to cool.
2. In a food processor or blender (you can also use a mortar and pestle), mix spinach, pine nuts, garlic and salt until pasty. Add in cheese and incorporate.
3. While mixing, pour in the oil in a slow, steady stream and mix until combined.
4. Serve immediately or cover with a layer of oil and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.