The healthy eating has definitely been on hiatus these past four days and it’s all thanks to pesto. Three out of four dinners were pasta, as were two breakfasts, and there was even a brunch of nutella crepes! It all began Wednesday night when I made the decision to make some homemade pesto. The fresh basil at Coles is really lovely and I’d been craving pasta something fierce for a while. This pesto is a big part of my childhood and accompanies memories of hot summer days spent with my cousins. The recipe comes from my Uncle Piero’s mother Maria and it’s truly the best pesto I’ve ever had.
The house I grew up in sat at the front of a long lot. This left a huge amount of yard for gardening, playing and even a tree house thanks to my dad and uncle. My parents grew a huge variety of plants and were very dedicated gardeners. One part of the garden was for the edibles. Herbs, vegetables and occasionally some berries. One plant they grew a lot of was basil. The basil would grow against the side of our house, bright green and fragrant, until one day in the summer when, at the height of its growth, it would all be torn out of the ground. The leaves were ripped off and washed, and then blended up in huge batches to make enough pesto to last us all year. The backyard basil cull usually happened on a hot Sunday afternoon when my mom’s family would come over. All the adults congregated in our tiny, hot kitchen, drinking wine while us children ran wild around the neighbourhood. Once the pesto was done and a huge amount of noodles had been boiled, either my dad or Auntie Lo would whistle to corral us back to the house where we’d get our plates of food and disappear again.
When I moved home to Canada without my parents at 19 my Auntie Lo would often send me home from family dinners with frozen tupperware filled with this pesto and the noodles to go with it. Nothing makes a broke college kid happier than a home cooked meal and leftovers!
The recipe makes a huge amount of sauce which you can then store and keep for an easy meal at a later time. This will not be happening for us, not this time anyways. I went out Thursday morning and did a big shop. Spent $22 on just under 2 cups of pine nuts. Yes, my jaw dropped too. When I told Fraser how much they were he asked me why I didn’t just buy some pre-made sauce. After I directed a long look filled with horror and disgust his way, I informed him that it would be worth it.
After blending up some of these golden pine nuts with the garlic, salt and a portion of the olive oil, you start blending the basil leaves up in small batches, adding the olive oil slowly as you go. Once this is blended very well you add finely grated parmesan, blend some more and voilà! you have your pesto.
Cook up some noodles, such as spagettini or capellini, then steam potatoes and green beans to add to the pasta, and you have some traditional Pesto Genovese. This was definitely one of the most rewarding meals I’d made, not only for how it tasted, but for Fraser’s reaction. He actually licked the plate when he finished. Nothing makes the cook happier than her food being enjoyed, and I could tell I knocked his socks off.