Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Everything but the cheese was home grown

Practiced a little "kitchen archeology" a couple of days ago and unearthed a jar of homegrown walnuts from my "uncle of the heart" Lajos, who lives on a small farm in Hungary and brings produce a couple of times a year.

So I went out into the garden and deadheaded my five sweet basil plants (if it bolts, i.e. develops flowers, the flavor changes, so you have to pinch off the flowers at this time of year). Pulled up 5 enormous cherry belle radishes and made a pesto, using walnut oil instead of olive oil. Sauteed some new snow peas from the oregon sugar pods that just started to fruit, a couple of large mustard greens and the radish greens. Added all to a lovely fettucini from World Market (they have really good fettucini), crumbled some more walnuts on top.

As my previous post averred, this is one of the joys of backyard gardening, joined to a fearless approach to cooking. I had never heard of a pesto made with radishes, but I know that pesto is just a "paste" (literal translation) made of vegetables, oil, hard cheese, and nuts. So why NOT a radish pesto?

Radish Basil Pesto Sauce

* 5 medium radishes, diced
* 1/4 cup walnuts
* 2-3 cloves garlic
* 1 cup fresh basil
* 1/4 cup olive or nut oil
* 1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan

Toast the walnuts and garlic (200F/90C for 5 to 8 minutes).

Place the radishes, walnuts, garlic and basil in the food processor and pulse about 7 to 10 times, until the ingredients are grated, not pureed. Add enough oil to moisten the ingredients and pulse again until blended. My food processor is one of those 3-cup ones, so at this point I moved the pesto into a bowl, but you can mix the cheese right in the food processor if there's room. Add the freshly grated Parmesan and mix it by hand. Taste and season the pesto with kosher salt, as necessary. Don't use pepper with this recipe, as it will mask the peppery flavor of the radishes.

Makes about 2 cups.

Spoon onto fresh, hot pasta to taste. Important that the pasta is hot, because it will soften the pesto. If the pasta is too cool, the pesto will just be in nasty lumps. For additional culinary and aesthetic interest, add sauteed greens and or green beans, diced roasted or sauteed squash, or a diced fresh tomato (or all of them!).

The pesto also makes a terrific condiment for sandwiches.

No comments:

Post a Comment