The Wonderful World of Pesto

By Chef Saul Bolton

 

“A Seed’s a Star a Star’s a seed”- Stevie Wonder

The Peak of Summer growing season At Katchkie Farm’s brings the bounty of Mother Earth. We scramble to keep up with the gardens growth from one day to the next. Memories of gardens past. Exhale. Dusk is falling as the plants have absorbed the rays of the sun. Row upon row moist from contemplative watering. Darkness falls. The Rooster crows. wake up! Sun is shining. Damn! Everything has grown 3 inches. Overnight. Yes, it’s real. Yes, its magic.

Got a garden? You know. It ain’t waiting. Its now or never. Pick at the Peak or forever hold your compost. Get down to it. Let’s Pesto.


Pesto straight up means to pound or crush. In Genoa, known as the birthplace of Italian, sweet basil pesto is done with a marble mortar and wooden pestle. Pine nuts and garlic are added to the mortar and worked into a paste. At this point add fresh basil, coarse salt and work into a paste. Add Parmesan. To ease the introduction of the Parmesan, add a little extra virgin olive oil. Done. At this point jar it up, store it in Tupperware, or an ice cube tray. Usually I top the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil to help preserve it. You can refrigerate it or store it in the freezer. Pesto freezes very well. In the case of the ice cube tray, freeze it then you can pop the pesto cubes out and store in a plastic bag. Taking it out as needed.

Now we understand what pops into most of our heads when we think of pesto. Let your mind wander the world a bit. Ok. Think on this, “Pesto is a Chutney, Chutney is a Salsa”. All these sauces or condiments are closely related as are the implements used to make them. Many cultures use versions of the mortar and pestle that date back much further than Italy’s version. Where does Basil come from? India! Love it. Many chutneys could pass as pesto’s as many pesto’s could pass as salsas. Love the interconnectedness of all things. We would like to share a couple recipes that illustrate these connections.


Mayan Pumkin Seed Salsa

Ingredients

2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
4 tablespoons olive oil    
1 cup red onion, finely diced
2 pieces jalapeno, fresh & finely diced    
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
½ cup fresh parsley
1 cup cilantro
lime juice
to taste

Directions

Lightly toast the pumpkin seeds                                
Add the pumpkin seeds to a food processor with the garlic, jalapeno and red onion and pulse to your liking
Now add the fresh parsley and cilantro with a good pinch of salt and pulse until you have a nice paste
Season with salt and olive oil to taste pulse. Taste for seasoning then adjust if necessary   
Now season to taste with fresh lime juice                                
Spoon into a bowl and serve.


Peanut Coriander Chutney

Ingredients

2 cups roasted peanuts
¼ cup salt
2 tablespoons tamarind
3 tablespoons ginger
2 cups cilantro
2 pieces jalapeño, fresh & deseeded
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, whole
1 tablespoon mustard seed, whole
2 tablespoons coconut oil  

Directions 

Combine first 6 ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth                                
Heat oil in pan then add cumin seeds and mustard seed until they pop                                
Pour over puree then pulse and spoon into serving bowl        


Pesto Trapanese

Ingredients

3 cups almonds, whole raw blanched
1 cup garlic, raw minced
1 clove basil, fresh
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste
10 Plum Tomatoes - ripe, blanched and peeled    

Directions

Cut the blanched tomatos in half and deseed, chopped roughly                                
Toast almonds until golden                                 
In a food processor, pulse the garlic, basil and salt with olive oil until creamy                                
Add the almonds, parmesan and process until fine and creamy                                
Add the tomatoes and pulse until creamy                                 
Season with salt and pepper to taste                                
To serve, toss with al dente pasta and top with toasted bread crumbs

 

Carrots, Spices.jpg

Carrot Top Pesto

Ingredients

3 cups carrot tops fresh and green, destemmed    
1 cup cashews, lightly toasted  
1 clove garlic    
1 tablespoon lemon juice  
3 tablespoons coconut oil   

Directions

Place all the ingredients into a blender and process to your liking                                
Season with salt to your liking and serve                                                                    

                        

                             

 


Photo Credit: ©Amanda Gentile

 
Devin Parker