Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Bounty of the Squirrel

This summer I was accused of being a squirrel.  This is a true statement, indeed.  The way I made jam, canned tomatoes, and made pesto was most likely quite the spectacle.  It makes me happy that many of my favorite bloggers also participated in these endeavors, and now I'm quite happy to say that when I work late and I get home at night, I have my own personal stash of homemade pesto to turn to for a healthy, satisfying meal... although mine comes from the freezer not a tree.  Right.  Making pesto is easy, very cost effective, and tastes much better than store bought, I think.  You can buy basil in the store, but I am definitely partial to making this in season.  Farmers markets sell gigantic stems for $2.

Pesto ice cube!
I use Ina Garten's recipe for pesto.  It is easy and the ingredients are reliable.  First combine 1/4 cup of walnuts, 1/4 cup of pine nuts, and between 5-9 cloves of garlic, depending on your tastes, in a food processor.  Process for around 15 seconds.  Add 5 cups of basil, one teaspoon of kosher salt, and one teaspoon of pepper.  Add one cup of olive oil slowly through the feeding tube until the pesto has a nice smooth texture.  As a side note, I actually don't have a feeding tube in mine so I added a quarter of the oil at a time and it turned out fine.  Then add 1 cup of parmesan cheese and blend for a minute.  You can use it immediately or freeze it in ice cube trays!  Also, pine nuts are more expensive than other nuts, but I bought one container and it lasted the entire summer.  I froze them and they kept nicely.

My favorite thing to do with pesto is add it to whole wheat pasta.  I like to saute some mushrooms and toss it all together for a lovely little meal.  I use two ice cubes per serving and top it with more parmesan cheese.

I heated up some cheese stuffed mushrooms to accompany this meal from my favorite mushroom farm in Wisconsin.  I'm OK with being a squirrel if this is what comes of it!  What's your favorite dinner to make in a pinch?

1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pine nuts
5-9 cloves of garlic
5 cups basil leaves
1teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 cup olive oil
1 cup parmesan cheese

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