Thursday, July 7, 2011

Super Green Pesto with Cashews and FINALLY How to Store Basil

If you are anything like me then your fridge is stuffed with beautiful greens that aren't your spouse's favorite and your kids won't touch with a ten foot pole. You also, now that it's July, might be starting to get some small basil bunches in your CSA of farmer's market. But basil here in the northeast isn't out of control yet like it will be in a couple of weeks.

I am completely sick of sauteed greens. And it's too hot for kale soup. In my fridge I had a half a bunch of spinach, some kale leaves and a small bunch of basil. So last weekend I whipped out the food processor and decided to make some Super Green Pesto.

SUPER BASIL NEWS ALERT!!: I think I finally discovered how to store basil. After years of struggling to keep basil from turning black or liquifying, I had just stopped buying it. I assumed basil was meant for people who had green thumbs and back yards full of sun. But in the summer it looks too yummy, I can't resist. Most of the TV chefs recommend cutting the stems and storing on the countertop in a glass of water like a bunch of flowers. For me, this resulted in foul smelling water and slimy inedible basil within 48 hours. Then I tried something different. I took my small bunch home from the farmer's market and soaked it just like my other greens in a sink full of water with some vinegar. I shook off the water and stored it in a plastic bag in the fridge in the crisper drawer. A couple of the leaves turned brown, but 90% of the bunch was happy and healthy a week later when I used it!! Finally. It only took me ten years to figure that one out.

Super Green Pesto with Cashews

1 Small bunch of basil
5-6 large leaves of kale
About 2 hearty handfuls of spinch
One garlic clove
Lemon juice (about 1 tablespoon)
A handful of raw cashews (about 1/3 of a cup)
Olive oil (about 1/2 of a cup)
Salt and pepper to taste

Chop or Chiffonade your kale, place it in your food processor. Add the basil leaves, spinach leaves, garlic clove, lemon juice and a drizzle of oil. Pulse until chopped but not pureed.

Add your raw cashews. Raw nuts are softer and will better attain the consistency you are looking for. Run your processor while you drizzle in the remaining oil. Your pesto may need more or less oil to achieve the consistency you want. I don't like a super oily pesto.

Scrape down the sides and incorporate everything. Add some parmesean cheese if you like. I didn't though. Add you salt and pepper to taste and give it a last run. There you go!

Rather than pouring over pasta, I sauteed some scallions, summer squash and snow peas. Just before they were done I added a healthy amount of the pesto and dropped a couple eggs on top. I covered the pan and let the eggs cook. It was a wonderfully light summer dinner but would make an equally good breakfast.

Pesto made entirely from basil can be too strong and not so high in nutrients. This is a great way to use your CSA greens and kick up the nutritional value of your basil pesto. It also freezes really well. I used half and froze half.


This post is shared with Simple Lives Thursday and Food Renegade's Fight Back Fridays

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