Basil Pesto

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by wesgraham, Jun 16, 2015.

  1. wesgraham

    wesgraham

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    So, I have a huge amount of basil. I'm going basil crazy at this point trying to use it as it comes off the plants rather then freezing the leaves. One of the things I've been experimenting with is Basil Pesto. The problem I have with most of the recipes I've found is that it's just too greasy from the olive oil. Does anyone have any idea how I can cut back on Olive Oil, but not ruin the pesto in the process?

    I'm sure someone is going to say to just cut back on the oil, but at the same time I figure that you're going to have to add more of other items to make up for the lack of oil.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2015
  2. cerise

    cerise Banned

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    You might add some cream to the already prepared pesto sauce.  I've heard of using chicken broth in place of oil (for a "skinny' version). Another option - add some lemon juice and/or lemon zest to the mix.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2015
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  3. wesgraham

    wesgraham

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    So tell me more about these subsitutes. Cream and lemon juice. Id like to hear more about these.

    Also, never thought of chicken broth. Wonder if it affects flavor.
     
  4. cerise

    cerise Banned

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    Lemon juice - add to your basil mixture & wiz it up.

    Cream - add, to taste, to finished pesto sauce. 

    Chicken broth  - Try it in place of olive oil, and see how you like it.  Or, you could experiment, and add a teaspoon or so to the pesto after you have wizzed it up.  Taste as you go. Hope that makes sense.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2015
  5. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Use less oil.  The pesto will have a more dry consistency but that's ok.  To help balance it out also use less pine nuts.

    Sorry, I would not use any other liquids with basil pesto.  There's nothing technically wrong with it but pesto is pesto is pesto.  It's a paste, not a liquid.  If I'm stirring it into a pasta I may stir in cream as well, but not directly into the pesto.
     
  6. chicagoterry

    chicagoterry

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    When I have a ton of basil I always make an almost-pesto with just basil leaves and olive oil. I freeze it in ice cube trays and then I have "fresh" basil in the dead of winter. It preserves the flavor much better than just freezing the leaves.
     
  7. panini

    panini

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    If you add other ingredients to pesto, it is no longer pesto. Traditional pesto is so well liked for the simple but powerful ingredients. The ingredients must be the freshest you can get. There is a big misunderstanding about pesto ( which translates to pound or ground ). The fact is that traditional pesto is not pounded, ground, food processed,etc. I've seen people throw the ingredients in a cuisinart and process till it's a homogenous pile of garbage.

    Pesto starts with chopping fresh garlic, either with a knife or mezzaluna. While chopping the garlic add some basil. chop some more, add some more basil and pignoli. Still chopping and adding more basil and nuts as you go. Add some Parm-Reg and keep chopping. No salt! this will extract natural water. The cheese is salty enough. Once you can move it around the board and get it stay in a form, put it in a shallow dish.

    Then just drizzle the best olive oil you can find. That's it. In fact I  just made some this evening with basil from the yard. I used with some potato gnocchi I had held over from the other night. It was neither greasy or loose in any way. It stays well in the icebox. In fact I'm getting hungry just thinking about the fresh Italian bread I brought home and the scrambled eggs and pesto I will have in the am.

        I'm not trying to be rude or disagree with any previous posts. It just a very tasty simple thing that needs to stay simple.

    ciao
     
  8. wesgraham

    wesgraham

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    Oh okay.


    Oh i totally get that. I used to work for an italian who would never do modern foods. Always traditional italy or he wont cook it. I didnt use nuts at all. And yeah i use a food processor but like you i dont like it being blended to practically a liquid. Im just a new cook trying to learn and apparently just found a few crappy pesto recipes.
     
  9. eastshores

    eastshores

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    No offense but I don't at all agree with that.

    Pesto and pestle have their root words for a reason. I have absolute admiration for you panini but I think we may go to war over this. I do agree that putting these things in a food processor produces garbage.

    Basil, pine nuts, and garlic have "oils" that are released through mastication.. in other words pounding/smashing. These oils are the true flavors that we seek in pesto and I will challenge ANYONE to produce a pesto in a food processor or otherwise chopped that can go up against a properly crafted pesto (via mortar and pestle) and win.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2015
  10. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    I make Pedro in a FP. I've never tried with a mortar and pestle. Seems time consuming. Is it worth it?
     
  11. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    Is the hubby aware of this "Pedro" ?
    Second question is making it in a FP the kitchen permutation of the mile high club?
    ;) :smokin :lol:

    mimi

    Autocorrect has been providing some hilarious posts lately.
    IMO

    m.
     
  12. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Oops. Since we're talkin Italian food it should have autocorrected to Pietro.
     
  13. antonella84

    antonella84

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    i love pesto! if you use an excellent extravergin olive oil, it will not disturb your palate....

    anyway, some put inside a little bit of ricotta...
     
  14. panini

    panini

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    @eastshores

    No offence taken. I'm not at all offended by you being wrong/img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif

    I can only speak to what I know. Like I said, traditional pesto is chopped. On rare occasion the garlic may be started in the mortar & pestle. I only saw that once.

    I have been lucky enough to spend some time in homes located in Liguria. My Mother's side are actually Spinolas. A prominent Genoese family. I have witnessed pesto

    being made quite a few times. I'm not sure if this is just a family or popular thing. I do know that many different people came to have dinner and the pesto was always complimented and accepted as the norm..

    This may sound ridiculous, but I did have conversations with cousins about pesto. Through translation I understand that pesto should have different tiny size leaves of the basil.

    It was the general consensus that pesto should be speckled with basil and a deeper in color. They all snickered and told me the lighter color pesto that is mortar & pestled almost to a creme and turns the pasta totally  green is for the restaurants and tourists. Once I had their pesto, I was able to differentiate each ingredient flavor. It was not overpoweringly subdued by the different oils that coat everything.

    Put it up side by side and you'll find my pesto the winner hands down.
     
  15. cerise

    cerise Banned

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    Sounds like Pistou:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pistou
     
  16. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    ;-)
     
  17. cerise

    cerise Banned

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    It's always good to know the "original" technique and recipe, and why it "works."  Pesto was pretty popular a few decades ago, in that it was everywhere - restaurant menus etc.  Like yourself, I found it to be heavy, greasy and overwhelming - best used in small doses, imo.  Basil pesto may be the "original" however there are many different takes on same from sun-dried tomato to artichoke & lemon, & on and on.  Pesto is not limited to using in pasta.  Since you have an overabundance, you might consider other uses as well.  I saw a beautiful pesto swirled bread in my internet travels.  Again, knowing the basics is a good thing.  The joy of cooking, for me, is taking it to another level.

    Interesting read:

    http://www.refinery29.com/chef-favorite-grocery-kitchen-store-goods#slide
     
  18. justacook415

    justacook415

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    sounds like it's your taste in oils. EVO isnt bad for you, so select an EVO thats to your liking. One that you could drink and be happy with! Plus try different nuts, or no nuts at all. 

    Trick I learned: freeze the blender before hand to keep the pesto a brighter color. If not the heat of the blades turns pesto's that nasty dark color! 
     
  19. jake t buds

    jake t buds

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    I find it funny that people are fast and loose with Gazpacho and Paella but "pesto" is off limits. Only a specific set of ingredients and method. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/surprised.gif

    I just made cilantro pesto the other day. The farmers market had bunches of cilantro on the cheap. Blend with a bit of oil, toasted pecans, garlic, some spices and voila! Yes, thats right. Cilantro pesto. I use it on anything you would use pesto, except pasta. Just doesn't seem right. 

    I also use a food processor because I don't have a mezzaluna and the large cutting board it requires. Same with a mortar and pestle. But then again, I don't puree the hell out of it either. 

    I try to get basil with the roots at my local farmers market, and plant it at home in a large planter. I've had fresh basil for the entire winter. Clip a bit here, a bit there for salads, pasta and pizza -but it goes into full bloom in the spring. It's currently crawling up my window. 
     
  20. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    @panini   the method you describe by chopping everything finely sounds like a gremolata to me.  

    What I do know about Italy is there is no one right way to do things.  Go from house to house and you'll hear a different story every time.  

    How can all the Italians with all their different methods be right yet what an American does is instantly wrong?