“Much Virtue in herbs, little in men…” -Benjamin Franklin

By: tutticooks

Feb 09 2011

Category: Uncategorized

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For those of you joining me after hearing me on the radio, welcome! 

If you’d like more information on my classes and how to register, please visit: www.alltothetable.com

This week, we were talking about fresh herbs and how they can turn up the flavors of a dish.  In my dream house (which looks amazingly like Ina Garten’s reclaimed barn/kitchen  http://www.housebeautiful.com/decorating/ina-garten-barn-1108) I have a lovely set of French doors that open out to side garden, full of fresh and fragrant herbs.  In reality, I’m battling with my cats to keep them from eating my little pots in my window box!

Still, I use fresh herbs whenever I can.  Their fragrance is intoxicating and there’s just something about them that connects my food to the earth from which it came.  There’s a wholesomeness that is infused into my cooking that I just can’t get from dry herbs in a bottle.  The only exception to that being the lovely little packets of spices hand-carried by my friend Patricia all the way from Greece and Israel.  Just one whiff of the Za’atar http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Za%27atar and I am transported to an exotic marketplace in a small alley and can hear the prayers chanted over the loudspeakers in the towers.

Okay, back to reality now! 

Here’s a lovely recipe CHOCK FULL of herby goodness for you to try:

Easy Homemade Fresh Pesto
3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
3 large cloves garlic
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Additional extra-virgin olive oil (for storage)

Finely chop basil leaves in a food processor.  Drizzle olive oil while pulsing.  Add pine nuts, garlic and Parmesan Cheese.  Adjust seasoning to taste.  Serve immediately over pasta, on crackers, over fish or in a stuffing with ricotta cheese.  Yum!

Pesto Pointers

Fresh basil is very delicate, and will turn brown if it gets very hot or if it’s exposed to air for long periods of time. Many cooks use fresh spinach as well as basil in their pesto to help maintain its brilliant green color.

•When mixing pesto with pasta, potatoes, or risotto, stir it in at the last minute, just before serving.

•Store pesto in a jar or airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week, or in the freezer for about six months.

•Keep it looking fresh and green by covering the top with a thin layer of olive oil or with a sheet of plastic wrap directly on its surface; this will keep it from oxidizing and turning brown. (If your pesto darkens in color, it will still taste good. Only discard it if it has been stored improperly.)

One way to freeze pesto in manageable portion sizes is to freeze it in an ice cube tray, and transfer the cubes to a heavy duty plastic freezer bag. (Reserve an ice cube tray for this purpose, as it might discolor and flavor your plastic tray.)   Thaw frozen pesto in the refrigerator or in the microwave on medium power just until room temperature.


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