Monday, October 6, 2008

54. Pesto (p. 889)

I made this recipe to use in the Tomato Tatins that I'll write about in my next post. I was surprised that The Book specifically calls for "store-bought basil pesto" rather than homemade in the Tatin recipe. I suppose that it's just The Book's concession to convenience, but, since I'm always looking for ways to tick off just one more recipe for The Project, I decided to make my own pesto.

But now that I've made this pesto, I'm really confused about why The Book specifies store-bought for the Tatins. Homemade pesto is super-easy to make, and in terms of taste, quality and appearance, the store-bought stuff doesn't hold a candle.

This pesto is very easy to make, and The Book's estimate of 15 minutes start-to-finish time is just about right. All you do is whiz together garlic, pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt, pepper, basil leaves and olive oil. That's all. The result is a vibrantly green, silky, and flavorful pesto. The stuff you buy at the store is usually army-green, flatly flavored, and pasty. By making it yourself, you can be sure that you're using the freshest basil and pine nuts, and the best Parmaigiano and olive oil. It costs a bit more to buy all of the raw ingredients than it does to buy a tub of the mass-produced kind, but that's probably an indication that the commercial pesto makers aren't using the freshest and highest-quality ingredients. The Tatin recipe only called for a small amount of the pesto, so I was able to freeze the rest to use another time.

On another note ... One of my goals for The Project is to become a better cook. Now, by that I don't mean getting better at following instructions in cookbooks. That's part of it. I mean, it's a great thing to be able to recreate an amazing dish that someone's taken the time to write out a recipe for. But, by cooking more and more recipies from The Book, I hope that I can gain the confidence and knowledge to modify recipies or to cook good meals out of the random collection of ingredients I happen to have on hand.

Well, I've taken a small step in that direction. I had to go into work for a few hours yesterday afternoon. When I got back, my wife and I had to run an errand, and by the time we were done, it was past dinnertime and we had nothing planned. "What are we going to do about dinner?" "I don't know." Just as I was about to pull into the BK drive-thru for some flame-broiled shame with bacon and cheese, my wife said, "We've got a ton of stuff at home, I'm sure we can throw something together." And so, that's just what I did. And while I don't think that "Pasta with Stewed Tomatoes, Broccoli Rabbe and Romano Cheese" is going to make it into the next edition of The Book (although I'm happy to share the recipe, just let me know if you're interested, Ms. Reichl), it was pretty darn good - better than a drive-thru hamburger, that's for sure. I was really happy that I was able to make a tasty, wholesome meal in short order, with ingredients that I had on hand, and without a recipe. I just may be becoming a cook after all.

Date Cooked: September 21, 2008
Degree of Difficulty: Easy
Rating: A

1 comment:

Liz C said...

"flame-broiled shame with bacon and cheese" Ha! Hilarious and so, so true.

Congrats on the throw-together meal! I'm just getting to the point where I can do that when necessary. It's a good feeling, isn't it?