Friday, April 17, 2009

Random Acts of Pesto

I was stuck with a lot of excess herbage in my refrigerator this week. I bought a few different fresh herbs for Easter and other miscellaneous meals, such as buying mint to make Cathy's soba noodle recipe. I had far more herbs than I could easily use before they expired, so it was time (or should I say "thyme"? ha ha) to use them all up.

I wanted to make some kind of sauce out of them, although I also contemplated herbed biscuits or popovers. I decided in the end that the easiest and cheapest thing to do would be to just smush them all together into a pesto.

Some people are "purists" about pesto. I never realized until recently that there is a vocal group out there who insist that pesto must be a garlic/basil/nut/parmesan blend. That's sort of silly. Pesto, like risotto, is not about the ingredients, but the method. The word pesto comes from the fact that you grind your ingredients up in a pestle (pesto being the Italian word for pestle). You can grind up any assortment of herbs this way and still call it pesto. Heck, what really makes my pesto inauthentic is that I used a food processor.

What did I use? I had mint, thyme, tarragon, basil (although only a few useable leaves), oregano, scallions and parsley. I also had garlic and good parmesan. In my freezer were a couple of containers of different nuts. I went to work trying to figure out which herbs would be best together.

My pesto was not a very vibrant green color. It also was a very different taste. Sometimes I found I tasted several different things popping out of me in one bite. Other times it seemed one bite tasted one way and one bite tasted another way. It needed more salt. I should have used more cheese.

I added some roasted cherry tomatoes to the pasta because I have that vegetable guilt thing going.

I still have some other herbs left. Perhaps I'll get to those biscuits before they go bad, or I'll make a nice omlet.

My amounts are totally not measured. I just went with what I had.

Linguine with Random Pesto

1 small handful mint leaves
1 large handful fresh oregano
2 good handfuls fresh parsley
A few leaves of basil
4 cloves garlic
Toasted hazelnuts (I'll wager around 3/4 cup)
Copius amounts of parmesan, grated
Olive oil
Two pints cherry tomatoes, roasted with olive oil and salt (optional)
1 pound linguine

Grind the first 6 ingredients in a food processor. Add enough olive oil to make a smooth paste. Mix in the cheese.

Toss with tomatoes and hot cooked linguine.


The Duo Dishes said...

Yeah! We can totally support this. Break all the pesto rules and make it your own. You could have something special going on here once you perfect your recipe.

noble pig said...

This looks simply delish. And how was the soba?

Lo said...

Random acts of pesto! Love it.
I'm a big fan of herbal pestos... and of breaking the rules when it comes to them. I say -- go ahead and perfect the art! No harm done!

Donna said...

It looks absolutely delicious.. next time you make it with your revisions I bet you'll find it perfect. I admire stepping out of the box.

Bunny said...

Very nice way to use up your herbs, and i never new that about's a method not a recipe. I learned something today!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Thanks for the support everyone. Hope you all go out and create your own creative pestos.

Cathy - Soba noodles were awesome!

Bunny - Knowledge is power. Go forth and pestle!

Jeff said...

I agree completely about breaking pesto boundaries and boo to close minded purists.

Pesto is also a great way to get rid of a lot of herb plants before covering them in the garden. It does freeze well too but I always like to not add the cheese if I am freezing it. I will then add the cheese after I defrosted and am ready to use.

Sounds awesome!

Sue said...

I am so with you about pesto. In fact, it's rare that I DON'T put some walnuts and parsley in it. Jeff is right about freezing it without the cheese. Definitely the way to go.

I LOVE the word herbage. I never heard it before. I wonder if I could say I have a lot of vegetablage in my fridge to use up...

Sue said...

I like pestle too!

Emily said...

Mmm this pasta looks so vibrant and delicious. Good use of herbs! Herbage.

Peter M said...

Love the name of the dish, "random pesto".

When the herbs are fresh, few combos don't open palate.