September 16, 2010

Sautéed Artichoke and Basil Pesto

With all the garden work I've been doing this summer to prepare for the wedding, I pass by the vegetable garden a lot. This means getting many whiffs of basil, and pining for pesto a lot.

I kept meaning to make pesto, but it's one of those things that's easy to forget about when you're spending your days checking out bathroom trailers (which, by the way, really lends itself well to "John" jokes), scraping, spackling, sanding, and painting the walls, and trying to find decent clothing for wedding events.

I finally found the motivation to make pesto last week, though, and decided that, to spice things up, I'd use up a huge jar of artichoke hearts that had been taking up real estate in the fridge all week. That's right, my social life is at such a low point that "spicing things up" consists of adding artichoke hearts to pesto.

Sautéed Artichoke and Basil Pesto

  • 2 loosely packed cups of basil, washed and patted dry
  • 5-6 artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
 1. Add a bit of olive oil to a medium pan over medium-high heat. Add the artichoke hearts, cook for about five minutes, then add the garlic. When the garlic has started to brown, add the pine nuts and cook for about five more minutes, stirring occasionally. 

2. Spoon the artichoke mixture into a food processor, then add the remaining ingredients. Purée until smooth, about two minutes. Adjust olive oil if needed; you should aim for a spreadable consistency, neither too dry nor falling apart.

That's it! Like I've probably mentioned before, I detest the overpowering flavor of raw garlic, so I always toast it a bit before adding it to any sauce or pesto. As for the pesto itself, you should plan to serve it immediately (toss with pasta, stir into brown rice, spread on a sandwich or a cracker, etc.). Pesto gets ugly quickly because the crushed basil leaves turn brown, so if you don't plan to eat it immediately, stick it in the freezer right after cooking with a little bit of extra olive oil on top.

Sidenote: I may or may not have attempted to finish this blog post after I had consumed a few adult beverages last weekend. Here's what I found when I opened this post to finish it up:

"Stir in the  basil leaves; they'll need time to wilt, and pretend like they have any authority over the rest of the wedding party's hair."

I mean...what? First of all, you don't wilt the basil leaves. Second, am I having subconscious anxiety about my bridesmaids' hair? I don't think so, but...gosh. I think I've learned a valuable lesson about drunk blogging--it's hilarious!

Just about two weeks until the wedding. Then the honeymoon, then the move to North Carolina, then I'll finally start writing regularly again, with the benefit of all my new kitchen loot! Homemade pasta (and the carbs I've been denying myself), here I come!

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