Tuesday, April 26, 2011

More basil, less oil

I still had quite a bit of basil left after last week's experiment with the tomato and basil sauce. Since that attempt at making a pasta sauce was fairly unsuccessful, (just cracked myself up with the typo 'unsuccessfoul' which actually describes the dish in question quite well) it made sense to use the remaining basil to make basil and garlic pesto (p99). It would at least give me another chance at making a palatable pasta dish.

Plucking the usable leaves from my now slightly manky basil, I found I had just on one cupful - enough for a half-recipe. It's pretty straightforward, really: you toast some pine nuts, then put them in a food processor with the basil and garlic. Once you've processed these a bit, you start drizzling in the oil.

As it happens, making a half-recipe of pesto is not the best idea, since you really don't have enough ingredients for the size of the food processor bowl. I kept processing as I poured in the oil, but the chopped up basil etc was all plastered to the sides and the oil just sat on the bottom.

Utilising that most versatile of kitchen implements, the rubber scraper, I managed to combine the oil and basily bits, then turned the processor on again to add the remaining oil. I didn't end up putting in as much oil as shown in the recipe, since my pesto was already extremely oily.

You've got to expect pesto to be oily, but this had taken it over the top. It was verging on basil-flavoured oil, as opposed to pesto. When I think about it, the cup of basil leaves I had was very loosely-packed; I probably didn't have the recipe proportions quite right.

After seasoning the pesto, I stirred it through some pasta, added some parmesan, and had a taste. Despite the out of balance basil to oil ratio in my pesto, the pasta tasted pretty good. It wasn't as strongly basil-tasting as I had expected - in fact, if it hadn't been for the parmesan, it might have been a bit bland - but I still liked it. I'll just make sure I have plenty of basil next time.


  1. Three cheers for the rubber scraper!!

  2. Indeed! Where would we be without our rubber scrapers?


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