Thursday, August 16, 2012

multi-herb ad hoc pesto

wow, the last few weeks have been intense. at the end of july i flew to austin, took the bar exam, and flew back to portland, only to immediately pack up our whole house, say some flurried goodbyes (including a really fantastic happy hour(s) at victory bar with a bunch of the portland people that i already miss the most), and drive the almost 2000 miles back to austin.

the drive back was long, but pretty awesome on the whole. utah was way more gorgeous than i expected it to be and the animals (FIVE, plus the two or us, in a toyota matrix piled high with our stuff!) were actually very well-behaved. i think in the end, though, it was the mix cds mike made and the endless quoting of arrested development that got us through the rougher stretches. 

we've been here for almost two weeks now and things are finally starting to feel more normal. we still don't have much furniture, but the internet works and the gas (finally we have a gas stove again!) is hooked up, so i'm happy. 

after the weeks of being without a functional kitchen, it's great to be able to just whip something up on a whim, like this ad hoc pesto. i got a giant bunch of basil at the farmers' market last week and it was starting to get a little frazzly, so i'd been thinking of pesto anyway, but this post on food52 was just the impetus i needed to actually put it together.  

some of the basil was getting pretty scroungy-looking, so i used what i could salvage and added cilantro and parsley to bulk up the green quotient (and add some extra complexity). i just put a few washed handfuls in the food processor with some garlic and a little olive oil and blended it up. 

once it was getting smooth, i added some parmesan cheese and some toasted almonds. i like pine nuts in pesto, too, but we more often have almonds around and also i've read those things about pine nuts making your mouth all weird (PINE MOUTH!!!) and no thank you. finally, i added some lemon zest and juice and a little water (maybe this is sacrilege?) to brighten and thin it out.

using multiple herbs in pesto makes it more interesting (although i love regular pesto as well) and ensures that you don't have to have giant bushels of basil every time you want to make it. some arugula (of course, an all-arugula pesto is also nice) or other herbs like tarragon or marjoram would probably be good additions, too, and you could also try adding things like celery leaves or carrot tops or really whatever kind of greens you have around. i'm not promising it'll be good, but it will be yours. live a little!

you can use this on pasta (or a cold pasta salad) or fish or in a sandwich or on pizza. you can thin it even more with extra lemon juice and some more water and call it salad dressing. it was fantastic on the simple romaine salad with little sweet tomatoes and shavings of ricotta salata above, for instance. using it in a composed salad of heirloom tomatoes and burrata or mozzarella wouldn't be totally crazy, either.

now that we're edging toward the end of a long and fairly rigorous summer, it's nice to be able to slow down a little and enjoy some of the season's great produce. it's also nice to be home.

*ingredients* (approximate - this is really flexible)
1 big handful cilantro (like a cup?)
1 big handful parsley (i used flat-leafed, but you can probably use whatever)
2 big handfuls basil 
1-3 medium cloves of garlic (depending on your tolerance/love for raw garlic)
1/4 cup or so olive oil
1/3 - 1/2 cup toasted almonds
1/3 - 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (~1 ounce or so? again, to taste)
zest and juice from 1/2 lemon (~ 1 - 2 tablespoons juice)
water, to thin to taste
salt, to taste

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