Sunday, August 26, 2012


Roasted corn on the cob with pesto and butter

The last days of summer are upon us.  The preserving of the harvest of summer vegetables is in full swing.  There is a rush to capture everything at its peak flavor.  In the whirlwind of making and canning sauces, pickles, jams and salsas, everyday meals have to be quick and easy.  A staple sauce that celebrates summer and makes even the humblest of ingredients shine is pesto.  My neighbor is helping me make use of my overabundance of basil by making her favorite pesto recipe.  This is a bright and garlicky delicious pesto that makes summer meals a breeze to pull together.

Garlicky Pesto

5 cups fresh basil leaves, washed dried and tightly packed
1/4 cup chopped parsley (Italian if possible)
3/4 cup olive oil
1 small head of garlic or approximately 6 large cloves or to taste
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese

Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until a smooth paste forms.  If not using immediately, put into a container (preferably glass) and cover with about 3/4 inch of good olive oil.  Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use.

Serve your pesto by making a quick and elegant pasta dish that is ready in about 15-20 minutes.

Pasta with fresh tomatoes and pesto

1 lb dried pasta
2 extra large, very ripe tomatoes or an equivalent mix of smaller varieties 
1 sweet pepper 
1/2 of a small mild onion (vidalia, walla walla or red) or 2-3 shallots
1/2 cup pesto, plus additional as desired
salt and pepper to taste

Chopped fresh tomatoes, peppers and shallots

While your pasta is cooking, chop the ripe tomatoes to get approximately 2 cups, and put them in a large serving bowl.  Roughly chop a large sweet pepper (I used an Italian variety, but a red, yellow or orange bell pepper would work nicely too).  Chop the onion or shallots and add them to the bowl, then add 1/2 cup of pesto.  When the pasta is cooked, drain it briefly leaving a little of the cooking water (approximately 2 tablespoons).  Put the piping hot pasta and water directly into the bowl on top of the fresh vegetables and pesto.  Toss to coat the pasta and mix in the vegetables.  Season with salt, pepper and add additional pesto to taste.  This is light summer meal that's ready in the amount of time it takes to cook your pasta, and it's elegant enough to serve to company.

A few other yummy uses for your pesto:

Popcorn with pesto butter

Take equal amounts of melted butter and pesto and stir together.  Drizzle over freshly prepared plain popcorn.  Season with salt if desired.  This is also good over a baked potato,

Roasted corn on the cob with pesto and butter (pictured at the top of the post).  

Roast shucked corn on the cob directly on the grill until it is done to your liking.  Sprinkle the cooked corn with smoked paprika, top with dollops of pesto and a pat of butter and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Here's to enjoying the last days of summer.  

Thanks for reading!

Watermelon ripe from the garden

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