Monday, July 4, 2011

A Summer Favorite - Pesto (& Ways to Use It)

I got home from the farmer's market last Saturday with three beautiful bunches of fresh basil and immediately went to work making a double batch of Basil Pesto from Giada DeLaurentiis' Everyday Italian (The first list of ingredients and the first paragraph of the directions are all you need to make the sauce.)

I absolutely adore pesto and I always make extra in the summer months to freeze for the rest of the year.  After the sauce is made, I scoop it into a couple of ice cube trays. After the cubes are frozen, I just pop them out and transfer them to a freezer bag or container.  Then, when I am making a dish that calls for pesto, I just defrost the number of cubes I need depending on what I'm making.  One of my favorite recipes that calls for pesto is Parchment Baked Halibut with Pesto, Zucchini, and Carrots from Health Magazine.  You can use any kind of mild white fish for this recipe, but usually I use flounder or sole.  

I've also made my own copy-cat version of a recipe called Farfalle alla Nonna, one of my favorite dishes from Acquista Trattoria, one of my favorite Italian restaurants near St. Johns University.  Basically, I toss together bow-tie pasta, sauteed chicken pieces, pesto sauce, and strips of sun-dried tomatoes.  I've always skipped the mushrooms, but they probably would be a nice addition if you like them.  My version isn't as good as Acquista's, but it is still quite yummy. 

And finally, I got the inspiration for my third favorite pesto recipe from Anna Thomas's Love Soup.  It's basically a "gourmet" grilled cheese sandwich made with layers of soft goat cheese, strips of sun-dried tomatoes, and pesto.  I think you can figure that one out without the actual recipe.  I followed the recipe from the book the first time I made it, but now I just wing it.  It's the type of recipe where you go "why didn't I think of that?" because it's so easy and delicious.

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