Tuesday, July 17, 2012

simple almond pesto

Pasta's a staple around here, as I'm sure it is in many houses. Unfortunately I'm a little particular about pasta sauces (result of my long standing, inexplicable hatred of the tomato. I seriously can't stand those things) and so I end up eating a lot of lazy pasta with just olive oil or butter and cheese, and tons of pasta with alfredo sauce, and lots of mac and cheese and the like.

It's summer though, and alfredo and mac and cheese are pretty heavy. Undressed pasta gets pretty boring after awhile (unless its fancy ravioli, which I do really need to try my hand at) and clearly it was time to change things up. A pesto seemed just the way to do that. Just one problem, and one you've heard before: I'm cheap. And pinenuts are expensive. So I said screw that, I'm using almonds. It worked just fine, I think.

This is for a tiny batch, four servings. It doesn't make a lot, but what it does has some punch. When I first turned the processor on with the basil in there the kitchen filled up with the most wonderful bright, green scent. It even tastes green. (I'm not crazy, I sweat, but that's the most accurate description.)

Ingredients
  • 1 large handful of fresh basil
    • that translates to about one cup, or 40grams but this is a very rough measurement
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons almonds or other nuts of your choice
    • I used blanched and unsalted, but you can use roasted
    • pine nuts are much more traditional, but they're not cheap
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • salt to taste
Directions
  1. In a food processor (or a blender, or a magic bullet - use what you have), grind up your nuts until they're somewhat mealy.
  2. Add the basil to the processor, pulse for a couple of seconds. This is just to break up the basil a bit and mix it with the nuts before the oil goes in. (I find things mix up better this way.) This is where it starts to smell good.
  3. Add the olive oil to the processor and give it a few whirls. You're looking for the basil to break down completely and for all three components to start to mix together. Scrape down the bowl once or twice between whirls.
  4. When everything is well blended, add the parmesan and give it a final spin or two, just to evenly distribute the cheese throughout the sauce.
  5. You have almond pesto! Pour it over some freshly cooked pasta (or mix it up with the pasta) and enjoy. Or do some other crazy things with it - use it as sandwich spread, or to marinate some chicken or whatever makes you happy.

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