Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Talk of the Town

Every gardener in town is talking, right now, about basil and tomatoes and squash borers and the heat and the drought and peaches and oh, every other thing that has to do with gardening in Austin during the summer.  Seeing as how I am one of those people who really likes to follow the herd (HAR HAR), I will join in the fracas. (That is not really the correct word, but I love it and just feel like using it.)

I would like to discuss basil and, in particular, the making of pesto from basil.  Well, actually, I'm not really going to discuss it so much as post a recipe and then go have some more coffee.  
I used to put all the ingredients for pesto in a food processor, pour drizzle in some olive oil and give her a whirl.  Until ... until I read  Heidie's recipe,  How to Make Pesto like an Italian Grandmother on  101 Cookbooks.  Oh. Mah. Lawd, y'all.  You'll never go back.

Admittedly, I don't use the fancy knives she talks about, my Parmesan was not fresh fresh (fresher than a green can though),  and I use walnuts instead of pine nuts because they're cheaper, but the basic idee is the same.  You put the basil in one pile, Parmesan in another, the garlic in another and the nuts in yet another.  Then you take a little from each of those piles and start chopping.  Add more of each and chop more. Add more of each and chop more.  By the time you finish adding and chopping and yakking and drinking, you'll have the most beautiful, pungent, chunky pesto you ever did see.  I made some last night and there was so much garlic in it we were 'bout on fire.  (If this happens to you, just add more oil or pasta or both.  You can also just drink more wine or beer and that will help too.)  Pour in some olive oil to get it the way you like it and then dump it on top of your pasta.  I didn't make fresh pasta last night nor did I have any "somewhat fresh" pasta from the store, so I just used regular old dry pasta from HEB and it was divine.

My wine recommendation is Palo Alto.  Even though it would have been nice to have some Italian nectar, you can never go wrong with anything from this Chilean winery. Both their red and  Sauvignon Blanc are oustanding wines in the $12 range.  For beer, we're still drinking Sierra Nevada's Torpedo IPA, but I'm feeling like we might switch to something a tad lighter soon. 

For your listening pleasure, I'd like to almost insist you buy this cd called Duetto with Marcelo Alvarez and Salvatore Licitra.  Even if you've never listened to opera or you think you don't like opera, you should give this a try.  Two barrel-chested Italian tenors trying to out-sing each other makes for some fine pesto-making.  John Aeilli played them one day on Eklektikos.  (Let's don't get started on John, now, OK? I am a fan and that's all I'm saying about it.)  As I was frantically trying to get through to find out what it was, he came on the air and said he had never, in all his years there, gotten such a response from something he'd played.  It's that good.  The music is kind of smarmy, but, oh, those voices will slay you.

I'm about to go cook up some yard eggs and slather some leftover pesto on top.  Maybe a tortilla will find its way in there too. Mmmmm.


PS Scrambled eggs with pesto and leftover coleslaw stuffed in a corn tortilla with some French press coffee (on the side) is really, really, really good.


  1. Oh, to be young again and have your energy!!
    After reading this I am going to bed to "rest my eyes" lying, of course, on TOP of the bedspread so as not appear lazy at 10:55 A.M.

    1. I rest my eyes at least three times a day just like you! We aren't lazy - we just read a lot!
      mizzrez Mudd

  2. Pesto sounds great, and I'll be trying it soon. And don't get me started John...he needs to retire and I mean like yesterday. Nuff said. ;-)

  3. Merry... I'll make some for you next time I see you!

    Kat...I SAID don't get started! ;)
    I love John.

  4. F**k yea, pesto! That egg taco sounds deevine. Thx.

  5. It was so f&*king good, I had more for lunch, as a matter of fact.

  6. I'll bring the pasta and wine! :)

  7. That's one crazy taco you dreamed up there. So you have basil? Mine's getting all toasty, the wimp.

  8. Love that last little recipe in the corn tortilla!!! I will definitely have to try that!!!

  9. Corricks - um, come on ovah!

    Caroline - mine are in my raised veggie beds so they get a bit of water pampering, but they too get a little toasty by the end of the day.

    Julie - omg....SO good. I buy that prepackaged slaw stuff and then make it fancy. mmmmm.

  10. It's hard to believe that in my younger days I would go out of my way to avoid having to chop anything (even buying pre-chopped frozen onion), while today I feel like it's vital to my cooking enjoyment. Can't wait to try making pesto this way.

  11. Hello Mamaholt. Thanks for stopping by the Plano Prairie Garden today. I have been lurking in the shadows of the blogosphere and following the adventures of the Curious Holts ever since Pam at Digging mentioned your blog a year or so ago. There is always something fun and interesting going on at your place. Your backyard is shaping up nicely.

  12. I've been making pesto from the same recipe a friend gave me 15 years ago and it's still the best pesto I've ever eaten. I make it weekly and will be freezing some soon. I also make a really good vegan pesto with nutritional yeast instead of cheese.

    I keep finding ways to use the lovely abundance of summer basil. I'm gonna' can some tomatoes soon and put a some basil in with them. Tonight we're going to have some Insalata Caprese. I never get tired of basil!


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