Friday, July 23, 2010

rocket and pistachio pesto

Just becase you love food, doesn't mean you always find time to cook. I'm sitting here thinking about how one of my typical days in recent weeks might be represented in a pie chart, but I'll spare you that. That would just be another way to procrastinate - and it has already made me want to bake pie. At the moment, most of my day is spent reading and writing, a little bit is spent sewing and a very, very small amount is spent cooking and eating. Being in the middle (or closer towards the end, but it still feels like the freaking middle) of a PhD sometimes makes me forget about food; this is when I can't be bothered cooking for myself and I find myself considering the possibility of eating while I sleep via intravenous. But other times, I want to cook a whole Blumenthal buffet with multiple courses and towering translucent wobbly jellies from children's storybooks and Silky's pop biscuits. But there's no time for all that. There is time for pesto, however.


It's the middle of Winter here in OZ and buying a big bunch of basil would be wrong on two counts (flavor, price). And with pistachios sitting in the cupboard after that glorious muesli the other week, the way forward was clear - Tessa Kiros' rocket and pistachio pesto. All you need is a handful of pistachios, some garlic and parmesan, a handful of rocket (arugula) and a nice fruity olive oil. You whiz it up the first bits in your blender or food processor - or if you're smarter than me and have finished your thesis you can do it in a pestle and mortar - and add the oil to make a very bright green and sharp/sweet pesto.

I've made this pesto lots of times now and it is so good - I sometimes even make it in the summer when basil is plentiful, just to mix things up a bit. It is great through pasta, of course. But it's also (especially!) awesome drizzled over golden roasted hasselback potatoes half way through cooking; the potatoes come out with this insane gold-green crust of nutty, cheesy flavour, making them a perfect side with something like roast chicken or a substantial and impressive contribution to a vegetarian spread (Tessa even recommends leaving out the cheese for coating potatoes, making this vegan-friendly). I've mixed this pesto into salad dressings, drizzled it on pizza and dolloped in into soups before serving. I've eaten it with fresh ricotta on toast.

If you're short on time, make this. It's very good stuff.

rocket and pistachio pesto
From Tessa Kiros' Falling Cloudberries

2 garlic cloves
60g (or 1/3 cup) shelled pistachios
60g rocket (or arugula)
40g parmesan cheese, grated
250ml (1 cup) olive oil

1. Crush the garlic to a lumpy paste with a little salt.

2. Pulse the pistachios in your blender to coarse bits. Add the rocket (I chop mine up a bit first) and continue to pulse until you have a relatively consistent, but coarse paste. Scrape this out into a bowl and stir in the garlic, parmesan and olive oil. Mix through well and taste for seasoning. Depending on the pepperiness of your rocket and saltiness of your cheese, you may want to add some salt (mine often needs a little to make it sing). You're done! If you don't use this right away, it keeps in the fridge for about a week, as long as the top is covered with a layer of oil.

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