28 June 2010

breaking my cardinal rule

When I told Richard that I would be making this pesto to serve our visiting friends Friday evening, he responded with eyebrow-raised doubt:  "You know, I've never made pesto before, Dana," with a grand emphasis on "I."  Besides breaking my cardinal rule of entertaining, which is that one should never try a new recipe for the first time with guests at the table, I was also breaking his unspoken rule of entertaining:  "I do the cooking.  You set the table.  Make a salad if you like."  Hey, don't judge, it works (well) for us, usually.  But, alas, summer has arrived & during summer I sometimes feel a renewed sense of domesticity & get the urge to do things like clean closets, hang laundry, and prepare meals.


I wish you could have seen his face when he noticed the dusty Krups food processor on the kitchen counter:  "Where's the mortar and pestle?  It's pesto you're making after all.  What do you intend to do with this pesto?"  I assured him that I had permission from an Italian, an Italian in Genova -- the Italian city known for pesto -- permission to use the food processor.  To his credit, he did not put up much of a fight with me.  Clearly not convinced, he escaped out back and shared a long, tall spritz with a neighbor. Maybe they had two.


With three thriving basil plants and a plethora of leaves calling to be harvested, I set about making my first-ever pesto.  Though the recipe is a bit ambiguous with amounts like "handful" and "a little," & thus frightening for a novice pesto-maker like me, I quickly realized that it's because it just doesn't matter.  Add as much or as little as you like & all will be well at the end.  I substituted a 20 month grana padano, a locally-made hard cheese, for the parmesan, and did add a bit of pecorino, as suggested;  both of these are things we generally have on hand in our fridge.  Oh,  for the love of pecorino!


The end result was just scrumptous. I'm quite certain that I could have simply served it straight up on a toasted rustic bread of some sort; instead, I went for pasta. This is when Richard took over in the kitchen. He mixed some of the pesto with still-warm penne and then followed with mozzarella and cherry tomatoes (from my garden). The mozzarella melted just a bit, and we later served the pasta at room temperature. It would be just as good, maybe even better, served chilled.


We ate the entire bowl. My friend Mark declared that this is his new favorite pasta dish; trust me, the man has eaten his fair share of pasta in his life. It is definitely a great choice for a warm summer evening.
My basil plants are looking better each day; boy, does that make me happy.
My husband has a renewed belief in my talents in the kitchen; that makes me even happier.


WOW! Check it out:

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  1. Bravo! It loooks like perfection! I bet it was delish by the looks of it.

  2. YAY! You got plethora in there, got me hungry, and I want to try your recipe...all in one post!

  3. So glad it came out scrumptious! And do try it spread over a crostino - I think it's my favorite way to have pesto.
    By the way - how come your basil looks so much bigger and better than mine?! I think I'll have a spritz while pondering this issue:)

  4. Dana, I want to be your neighbor!!!!! It looks delicious! Maybe we can make that when you visit (with products from the store)? And maybe we could make some bruschetta. Oh and Richard's famous tiramisu...


  5. Found you through the blog hop. My mouth was watering through this whole post. Looks delicious!

  6. My mouth is watering.....there are just a plethora of things I could do with that pesto!

    Beautiful pictures, love your blog!

  7. Do, do try the recipe. It was great! Les, get a basil plant going now as we'll need at least 40 good leaves to create the recipe.

    Natalie, -- Admittedly, "plethora" is easy.

    Amy & 40Something Chick -- nice to see you here. Can't wait to stop by your blogs.

    Francesca -- grazie mille. . . how about a post about the battered sage leaves?


  8. Yum! Yum! Yum! That does look like the perfect summer pasta. Must try this soon. I have never made my own pesto before either so thanks for the motivation. Also, I sent you an e-mail last week...just want to make sure it went to the write address (I used the one on your blog and your flickr one). Happy Summer!

  9. Love it - that looks so yummy! You have a plethora of compliments for sure

  10. I would like a plethora of pecorino and that pasta along with the plethora of basil! Yum!

  11. That looks amazingly good! Brava!

  12. Thanks KC. . .it was soooo good and easy as pie. Saturday I'll be making it again, this time for Italians. . . that'll be the test! HA!

  13. Hey Dana! This is the first time I've ever commented on your blog! Adam read this post first & has been talking ever since about wanting to have pesto. Did you know the first time I ever made it (last summer) I used her recipe, too? Delicious, I agree. Miss you guys!