the Life and Times of Warrior Woman

blonde recluse. nihilarian pronk.

un-recipe: the pesto that wasn’t.

with 2 comments

Ever have a day when you go to the kitchen with full intention of preparing three hundred tasty dishes for the next week – only to come out with three failures by the end of the day?  Even when you’ve followed the recipe precisely?  Or cooked a tried and true, old, from-the-archives recipe?

That’s kind of what happened to me yesterday.

I wouldn’t call these things that I cooked complete disasters (they were all liked and eaten, interestingly), but they were definitely not something I expected to turn out.

Fresh basil is usually very pricy here.  At times it would go for nearly $10 per bunch.  So when I spotted one for about a dollar, I grabbed it. 

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I knew you could make pesto from it, and I’ve always wanted to make pesto.  This is the recipe that I’ve wanted to follow.  I lacked pine nuts or walnuts, but I had this bright idea to substitute them either with chestnuts or almonds. 

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There they are.  A nice generic 200g pack of almonds.  Usually very pricy too, but my father scored three bags in a discount store.

Olive oil is even pricier than basil here, so I went for regular sunflower.  And I didn’t want to add cheese immediately, because I wanted this sauce to keep in the fridge for a couple of days.

Already not very pesto-like, is it?

I set out to milling (or is it grinding?) nuts.  See, I don’t have a food processor.  Food processors are for sissies.  Instead, I have this.

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This, is a manual nut grinder.  Sort of like meat grinder, only for nuts.  I inherited this from my grandmother.

Now, in an ideal world, it’s supposed to be secured to the edge of the table.  Unfortunately, our family’s kitchen table, nor countertops, are compatible with it.  So I had to hold that thing, make sure nuts were not spilling out, spin the handle, and catch ground almonds in a bowl, all at the same time.  I think I gained about two pounds of muscle on my arms from that.  Not too sure, though.

So I ground nuts.

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About one handful.  They’re pretty coarse, but when they’re mixed with other ingredients, it’s perfectly fine.

I tore basil leaves from the bunch.

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This is where the recipe calls for food processor again.  I decided to use a blender instead.  I have two.  One immersion-type, one regular.

Guess which one I went for first.

Yep.

For the record, immersion blenders are bad for pureeing herbs.

So I scraped nearly unchopped basil leaves from blades and bowl, and put it all into my regular blender.

Pulsed a bit.

Added oil.

Pulsed a bit more, added salt, three good pinches, and pressed garlic.

Added more oil, pulsed a bit more, added nuts, pulsed.

Nope.

I didn’t like it.  Nor its taste, nor its consistency, nor quantity.

So I added a tin of peeled tomatoes to it.  Pulsed some more.

Et voila!

It became a very tasty, very spicy sauce all of a sudden.

Its only downside?

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Its colour.  Yeah, yeah, it looks like very runny poop.  But don’t let it stop you!  You can use it as pizza sauce if all else fails, or with meat.  I caught my mum just spooning it and eating it with bread.

Ingredients:

  • one bunch basil
  • five cloves garlic, pressed
  • contents of one tin of peeled tomatoes
  • vegetable oil, I’d say about… 5 T
  • salt, about three good pinches
  • ground almonds, maybe 1/3 cup

Method:

Put everything in a food processor or blender.  Run until smooth.  Don’t forget to pause as per manufacturer’s instructions.

Today is its third day in the fridge, and it’s still good.  Some separation during storage is okay, just mix it with a spoon before using.

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You know how they say.  Don’t judge the sauce by its colour.

… No, I know, they don’t really say that. 

Whatever.

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Written by Alexandra

30 July 2012 at 2:09 pm

2 Responses

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  1. im sure green pesto is over rated and fresh will be non comparable to shop bought – well done

    jarvisandbeetle

    30 July 2012 at 2:39 pm

  2. Well, if other people won’t want to eat it because of it’s color… that means more for me. Not such a bad deal ; )

    Playful foodist

    30 July 2012 at 3:08 pm


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