No. 7: Perfect Pesto + Bonus Biscotti Recipe

My dad is a great cook, especially when one particular dish intrigues him. He loves to learn and try as many variations as he can.

There was a bread phase in my high school years. There was biscotti. So many delicious versions of biscotti that I put one of the classic recipes at the very end of this post.

But I will never forget when he started to make pesto. I walked in the door, home for a weekend away from Kansas State, and was greeted with him dancing (yes, dancing) in the kitchen.

"Amelia! I made pesto! Pesto!"

All of those exclamation points are warranted. The man was giddy with the realization that he could make fresh pesto in five minutes or less. We spent the whole weekend playing with different adaptions.

Perfect Pesto

With all the pesto I've been using this week in recipes, I figured I should make some to have on hand.

There are a gazillion ways to make pesto. Essentially, the equation boils down to:

Greens + nuts + hard cheese + olive oil
= awesome sauce in and on everything

I just knew that The Kitchn would have a perfect pesto. They always have these kinds of essential recipes.

Side note: Haven't been to The Kitchn? Go. Right now. Search for any term in the culinary world. You will be delighted by what you find.

Side, side note: After going to The Kitchn, check out their sister site, Apartment Therapy.

Ingredients

5-6 ounces (2 healthy bunches or about 6 cups gently packed) basil leaves, or any other green
1/2 cup pine nuts, or any other nut
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, or any other hard cheese
1 to 2 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

To make

Combine half of the basil with the nuts, cheese, cloves, and salt in a blender or food processor.

Pesto ingredients

Blend continuously until the ingredients are finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the rest of the basil. Blend until a uniform paste has formed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Pesto before oil

With the blender running, stream in the olive oil. Less olive oil will make a paste good for spreading on sandwiches and pizzas; more will make a sauce better for pastas and stirring into soup. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue blending as needed until the olive oil is emulsified into the basil and the pesto looks uniform.

Taste the pesto and add more salt, garlic, nuts or cheese as needed to taste.

Pesto will darken and brown very quickly, but will still be tasty and fresh for several days. For best appearance, use it right away. If storing, store it in the smallest container possible and thoroughly press the pesto to eliminate air pockets. Pour a little olive oil over the surface, cover, and refrigerate for up to a week. Pesto can also be frozen for several months.

The results

Yum! I followed the recipe exactly and didn't adjust any amounts save the olive oil. I like a chunkier pesto consistency.

With a spoon, I portioned out the pesto in an ice cube tray to freeze into cubes.

Cubes

Once these set up overnight, I'll pop them in a freezer bag for long term storage. Now they're ready to add to sauces, pasta, sandwiches ... practically anything.

Bonus Recipe: Power Biscotti

Biscotti is really just a twice baked cookie. Change up the ingredients to make a hearty breakfast, decadent dessert or treat to go wtih your morning coffee.

Power Biscotti is a Roudebush family favorite.

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/4 cup wheat bran
2 tablespoons flax seed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs

To make

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour and the next seven ingredients together in a large bowl. Combine oil, extracts and eggs in a separate bowl, then stir into the flour mixture until well blended. Dough will be dry and crumbly.

Turn dough out on lightly floured surface and knead eight times. Divide dough in half. Shape into two, eight-inch long logs.

Place logs onto a greased cookie or baking sheet. Flatten with your palm to one inch thickness. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees. Allow logs to cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet. Then cut into diagonal slices. Place cut side down on the cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes on one side, then repeat on the second side. Cool slices on a rack.

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