Friday, September 20, 2013

Parsley Hazelnut Pesto

I don’t write very much about the parts of my life outside of what I just cooked or baked. Trust me, it would be extremely boring. But allow me to say just this one thing about the work-week that just ended: it was 11 days long. And a second thing: this is not the first time this has happened to me. And just one thing more: I’m a leeeeetle bit tired!

I regret that the above statements are true and contribute to the paucity of posts in the last fourteen months or so. Luckily, it’s not really that big of a deal to throw some herbs and some toasted nuts in my food processor. This means something fresh and delicious and new can still happen at supper time. This week I got my stuff together enough to toss a parsley and toasted hazelnut pesto with pasta along with some fresh local green beans and scallions and a few cherry tomatoes from my lackluster backyard garden.
The parsley-hazelnut pesto here has a greater proportion of nuts than in other pestos I’ve made. I love hazelnuts and had plenty in the freezer (the rest of a bulk bag I got to make this cake), and, since I didn’t even plant basil this year, I was happy to try this slightly different, slightly nuttier take on pesto.

This thick sauce is fresh and herbal with just a bit of toasty nuttiness from the hazelnuts, which I prepared as described in this post. It’s also got a bright burst from lemon juice and zest that livens it up. There’s not much to do but plug in the processor and go, and then decide what to toss with the results. Really you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand, but I described how I made my simple supper (which also left plenty of leftovers to provide a few lunches this week) below.

I may not be able to post to these pages as much as I would like, and I may not be able try as many new dishes as I’d like, but I still love to do this. I still have a stack of cookbooks and recipe clippings and ideas a mile high and the hopes and dreams of getting to try all of them keep me excited. I’ll keep making messes, and I hope you’ll keep coming along for the ride!!


Parsley Hazelnut Pesto
Adapted from Bon Appetit

2 cups parsley leaves and tender stems (preferably flat-leaf parsley)
2/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned and allowed to cool
finely grated zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil, preferably extra-virgin

1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the parsley, hazelnuts, lemon zest and juice, and garlic. Process to form a coarse paste. Stop to scrape the sides once or twice to incorporate everything.

2. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil through the opening at the top of the machine. Process until smooth, scraping the bowl occasionally. Taste for seasoning and add salt or lemon juice as desired. Serve as you would any pesto sauce. (See recipe suggestion below.)

Makes about 1 cup pesto. Refrigerate leftovers. This pesto will not brown when stored as a basil pesto does.


Pasta with Parsley Hazelnut Pesto, Green Beans and Cherry Tomatoes
Also adapted from Bon Appetit

This is a recipe only by the most casual definition. Substitutions and adaptations can be made at will.

8-10 ounces whole wheat or multigrain short pasta (I used whole wheat rotini)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped scallions
2 cups coarsely chopped green beans, steamed or blanched
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
About 1 recipe Parsley-Hazelnut Pesto (see above)
grated Parmesan cheese to taste
additional salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook pasta in boiling salted water until it’s done the way you like it. How do you know? Taste it! Drain the pasta and reserve about a cup of the cooking water.

2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the scallions and sauté 3-4 minutes or until just softened. Add the green beans and cook about 1 minute more. Add the cooked pasta and about 2/3 of the pesto and toss to coat. Add some of the reserved pasta water to thin out the pesto. Add more pesto if needed. (It’ll probably depend on how much pasta you cooked.)

3. Stir in the cherry tomatoes and Parmesan cheese to taste. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Serve with more Parmesan.

Makes 4-6 servings.


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