Thursday, September 1, 2011

the versatility of pesto

This month's issue of Saveur arrives in the mail and I am as giddy as a school girl holding an unopened love letter in her hand.
Or, these days, perhaps it's an unopened email.
Either way, I'm happy.

And when I open it I am delighted to find a huge section on Pesto.
This is good because I have an abundance of basil growing in my little garden.
It's almost as tall as my tomatoes.
Elephant basil, if you will.

I don't really know what to with it besides offering it up as a gift to the God of Carbohydrates and throwing it on a pizza or making it into a pesto and tossing it on pasta.
However, with a little imagination it can go much farther.
The basil leaf, it turns out, is as versatile as it's cohort, the tomato.

It's good by itself, schmeared on some crusty bread.
But it really shines in this vegetable soup.

Vegetable Soup with Pesto
*adapted from Saveur Aug/Sept 2011

6 cups basil leaves
2 cups flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup toasted pecans (this is easy to do: grab a pan. heat it up. throw in the nuts. toss them around a few times and take them out when you can smell them)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan reggiano
1 clove garlic

Add all the ingredients together in a blender on high until smooth-ish

1 oz pancetta, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 carrots, finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1/4 head of green cabbage, thinly shredded
4 cups chicken stock
4 cups water
1 can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
1 can cannelini beans, rinsed
cooked orzo
salt & pepper

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat render the pancetta (which, by the way is like really fancy ham) in some olive oil until brown.
Then add the garlic, carrots, celery, and onion until browned and soft.
Next comes the zucchini and cabbage. Cook this until the cabbage has wilted some.
Pour in the stock, water and tomatoes.
Bring it all to a boil.
Mash up some of the beans and add all of them to the pot.
Toss in the cooked pasta.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Once it's been served in a bowl, top it off with the pesto.


  1. You meant to tell me we get a recipe for pesto AND soup in one post? Just when I thought your blog couldn't get any more does.
    I love pesto on a sandwich. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. I adore pesto. I made a 5lb of pesto 2 weeks ago and froze it in smaller containers. Just now I am expecting guests so I just took out the pesto and voila, dinner ready. Pesto and sour cream makes a wonderful bread spread or a meat or veggie sauce. Love your soup. So rustic and good! Beautiful pictures as always.

  3. Dana- after neglecting this for a month, it's the least I can do ;) Thank you!

  4. Jelena- rock on sista! I've even heard of freezing it in ice cube trays so you can simply pop out a few in those rare instances you are not feeding an entire army!And pairing it with sour cream sounds delish! I think I have an earlier post of a pesto/goat cheese sandwich. If I don't, then I should!!

  5. I discovered pesto back in the 80s and never looked back. Wonderful stuff! I am so jealous of your garden! I remember the days when I strolled through mine, tomatoes and basil touching each other, giving me the sense of immeasurable joy:) Enjoy your bounty - nothing else feels as sweet as a fruit you grew yourself.

  6. Lana- unfortunately a stroll through my garden consists of a whopping 2 steps (4 if your under 2ft tall)! But I couldn't agree more with your beautifully eloquent thoughts...nothing is as sweet.

  7. Had to return again to your wonderful pictures. Yes, I froze it last year in ice cube trays, but this year in 2lb plastic containers, and the rest in glass jars. Just popped the jar in hot water, went for a walk and the pesto was defrosted and ready for dinner. I make a rocket and feta pesto in the winter. have the recipe on the blog and it is wonderful. I also use almonds and walnuts instead of pine nuts, since pine nuts are around $25 for a lb and are hard to come by.


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