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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Gastronmical Interlude: Mint Pesto

Much to blog, very little time to do so. Keep tuned for: Chocolate Bacon, How to Build a Computer (and why you should), and a wrap up of Bird migration and wildflower seasons 2010.

For now, a brief gastronomical interlude.

Homemade Mint Pesto

I harvested a lot of stuff from my balcony garden the other day, and was unsure what to do with it. I was tempted to whittle down the mint via a regular series of Mint juleps, but the rate and volume of juleps needed to use up the mint before it spoiled was fairly prodigious. Even for someone who really likes mint juleps. I had a lot of mint. And seeing as how I have not yet perfected the Basil julep, I felt it best to pursue another course.

When one has large amounts of basil, pesto is always a winning idea. Growing up, pesto was not in our lexicon. Our condiments and spreads were of a more domesticated sort. If it wasn't ketchup, mustard, relish, butter or chip dip, it was akin to 14th century french literature: beyond our realm of comprehension, and of dubious usage. As I have muddled through to adulthood, I have, of course, broadened my culinary horizons and pesto is now an acceptable spread.

So I thought pesto might be a good way to use up my bagful of pesto. But what about the mint? Much like my landmark chocolate/bacon breakthrough, I thought, hey. These things are awesome. Combined, they could be...even awesomer. But like any idea I have in these days of the information superhighway/system of tubes, I assumed someone, somewhere already had this idea.

And it turns out they had. There were several, but the best (read: easiest) was from www.workinggirlcooks.com. It was good enough that I didn't feel like less of a man for using a site that apparently is expressly for either employed females or archaicly-termed prostitutes. It wasn't wholly clear.

Basil-Mint Pesto

Makes a little more than a cup, enough to coat a standard package of your favorite pasta.

Ingredients

2 packed cups of fresh basil leaves, stems removed
1 packed cup of fresh mint leaves, stems removed

½ lemon

¼ cup pine nuts

3-5 cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons of good quality olive oil

½ freshly grated parmigiana reggiano

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the basil and mint leaves in a colander and wash with tap water, drain, and place the leaves in the food processor. Cut the ends of the garlic cloves but leave the skins intact. Roast them on the stovetop over medium high heat until slightly charred on all sides and soft to the touch (about 10 minutes). Place the pine nuts on a sheet and toast them in the oven for ten minutes, shaking the pan every few minutes until golden brown on all sides.

2. Remove the skin from the garlic and place the cloves in the food processor. Place the toasted pine nuts in the food processor. Zest the lemon and squeeze the juice into the food processor being careful not to get any seeds in there.

3. Close the lid and pulse until the basil and mint is finely chopped and everything has mixed together. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula if needed.

4. Turn the food processor to on and slowly drizzle in the olive oil, process together until a smooth paste forms (about a minute).

5. Remove pesto from food processor and mix in parmigiana reggiano by hand. Taste for flavor and season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Allow pesto to chill in fridge for an hour before using to allow all the flavors to meld together.

7. Enjoy in your favorite dish.

Printable Recipe: Basil-mint pesto



Regardless of the questionable occupational status of the "girls" who conceived it, the recipe is pretty great. I'd just add that, if you can, double it for the sheer sake of making it easier to process. My final product was slightly less fine-chopped than normal pesto simply because there wasn't enough to fill the bottom of the blender.

2 comments:

Joel said...

I may have to try this. Soon.

Like you, we were never served pesto in my house. I had it for the first time in college, and now I manage to keep it in the fridge all the time. Handy tip: if you make a lot, it also freezes extremely well.

JMBower said...

My biggest problem has been getting enough to harvest at one time for a decent batch.