Besto: Basil Pesto

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One of my favorite things about basil pestos is that you kind of have to get to know them to love them. Green and somewhat slimey, they aren’t the most estetically pleasing of sauces; it is easy to see how a stranger to pesto could be apprehensive. However, a good pesto can sweep you off your feet at first bite.

Pesto is kind of en vogue right now, I’ve seen a bunch of recipes I’m interested in trying for pea pestos or sun-dried tomato pestos. This recipe is for a basil pesto, and I think it is a lip-smacking good recipe. I’ll tell you quickly, about how I came up with the name:

I was plating dinner and my younger brother asked me what I was eating (Tangent: he is EXTREMELY picky. The last green thing he ate was probably mint chocolate chip ice cream… I’ll be made the next pope before he eats pesto). My response was, “Pesto, but its really good pesto. The best pesto! Wanna try?”

His response was simple, “So its Besto?” So it’s Besto now. And no, he wouldn’t try it. Don’t let that put you off; he doesn’t even like mashed potatoes… So yeah, he’s that picky.

Now for the good stuff:

One of the reasons I really like this recipe is because it incorporates both basil and parlsey. I’ve tried a lot of pesto recipes, most of which called for either basil or parsley, but not both. Using both gives a much stronger and multi-layered flavor. As you can see, I have listed the ingredients and instructions at the bottom, but this recipe is one you can kind of do by sight and taste. I like to use a 2:1 ratio of basil to parsley. I like to think of it in proportions because that’s helpful if I am serving more people and hence need more sauce.

On the subject of nuts: I’ve used both walnuts and pine nuts. I prefer pine nuts, I like their distinct nutty and sweet flavor, but they can be expensive. Using walnuts still gives your pesto a great nutty flavor, but is a little more fiscally conservative (plus I had them in the house already).

Surprise ingredient: Lemon. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I really believe that lemon is like Viagra for cooking. It gives almost everything a little extra oomph! I use both the juice and the zest. I don’t aim for the pesto to have a strong lemon flavor, but I’ve found that lemon works really well in building a great flavor.

I like my pesto punchy. It should have a strong aroma, be bright green and smack your taste buds around (just a little).

Also, this sauce is very versatile. I made it with pasta, but you can serve it with chicken, in a panini, on pizza and I’m sure a multitude of other fun ways.

So please give it a try! I’d love to know how it turns out.

Happy Eating 🙂

2.5 oz Basil

.5 oz Parsley

3 or 4 cloves of Garlic, chopped

Walnuts, chopped (a big handful)

1 tbsp Pecorino Romano cheese

1 Lemon, juiced and zested

1 or 2 tsps Salt and Pepper

3-4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1. Blitz basil and pesto in food processor. Once they are finely chopped, add chopped walnuts and garlic, blitz again.

2. Add lemon juice and zest, blitz. TASTE!!!! Think about the flavor and consistency.

3. Add salt and pepper, blitz. Taste again (important). Add more seasoning if needed.

4. Add olive oil, blitz. You want to be careful here, because you want the sauce to be loose, but not too loose. Add oil in intervals if you feel apprehensive.

Serve any way you like! 

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Pad Thai

Pad Thai

Pad Thai

To me, Pad Thai has got to be one of the greatest things on the planet. I am a big fan. I am the 12-year-old girl to its Justin Bieber.

It is also something that I’ve been wanting to make for a long time. I’ve held off until now, because I am the first person to admit I know nothing about Thai cuisine (other than it is awesome). Many of the recipes I’ve found included a laundry list of ingredients; I have no idea what most of them are and I have no idea where my nearest Asian grocery store is (I live in the middle of nowhere and our ethnic food scene  ranges from Chinese Take Out to Standard Italian Restaurant).

So you can imagine how overjoyed I was when I found this recipe. “No weird ingredients”….which translates into stuff I can find in my supermarket.

I did wonder, “Will it be good? Are the “weird ingredients” really what makes or breaks the dish?”

Perhaps they are…. but my Pad Thai still came out really delicious!

The only major changes I made was that I think I doubled the amount of Siracha (if you can’t stand the heat, don’t eat in my kitchen), I added bean sprouts (yum) and I added the peanuts into the stir fry about a minute before I took it off the heat.  It gave the dish a slightly nuttier taste, which I like.

As previously mentioned, I don’t know the first thing about Thai food. I think that more authentic Pad Thai dishes have a more mild peanut taste and that their more Americanized counterparts taste more strongly of peanut butter.  If this deduction is accurate then I would recommend that people who like Pad Thai to scream PEANUTS should add more peanuts. I found the peanut flavor to be somewhat subtle.

Also, I needed to cook my noodles for more than 1 minute when I added everything together. I probably cooked everything for an additional 10 minutes, but I am not sure I soaked my rice noodles in enough water, so I perhaps that is why.

When serving, make sure you put some lime wedges on the plate. Not only is it pretty, but squeezing them over the noodles gives a really nice last hit of flavor!

I really like to make my own Asian dishes, because I know that you can run into a lot of MSG with take out. Especially when something is so easy and fun to make, why not? Give it a try and let me know how yours came out! I’d love to hear feedback.

As always…

Happy Eating 🙂