Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pesto From Scratch - Thai Lime Basil Pesto

After pinching back several times throughout the summer, my lime basil is insisting on bolting. So, armed with scissors I ruthlessly pruned the five plants down to a third of their former selves yesterday.

Back in August of last year when I was engulfed in seed catalogues, the idea of having lime basil growing in my Tajik garden seemed wonderfully exotic. But now that its in abundance, I was at an impasse. I just didn't know what to do with it.

Several google searches for lime basil pesto came up empty handed. So I sat back and thought about it for a second. Lime basil, to me, seemed inherently Thai. I had roasted peanuts in the cabinet, small red hot chilies and chunks of ginger in the freezer. Why not, I thought. Well, then, Thai Basil Pesto it is.

Instead of the traditional pine nut route, I used 1/4 cup of roasted peanuts. I whizzed them in the food processor.

After pulling the leaves off the stems, I washed the delicate light green leaves and promptly dried them in a salad spinner and kitchen towel. I had about 1/2 cup packed leaves. I added another 1/2 cup of packed cilantro and put all of that into the food processor.

I grabbed one small hot red chili and one chunk of ginger from the freezer.

With a microplaner, I grated the ginger into the bowl of the food processor.

Then I finely chopped the red pepper. I was bold and kept the pith and the seeds.

Then I opened my prized jar of lemongrass. I justified it since my five attempts at growing it in the garden this year were complete failures.

Here's the complete ensemble.

Pulse this many times in the processor until you get the consistency you prefer. As for me, I like it sort of smooth, but my processor doesn't do smooth so I am grateful for slightly chunky.

Now add the oil. I used olive oil, but I suppose peanut oil would work very well, too.

The final product.

STORAGE TIP: I've had varied success with freezing pesto. The key is to flash freeze small portions and then, once frozen, put the frozen pesto into a zip lock. What's worked well for me is to lightly spray a mini muffin tin with oil and fill each hole with pesto. Freeze the tray for about an hour and then remove the frozen pesto and put into a zip loc bag and keep in the freezer until needed. Small portion sizes allow you to toss one into soups, pastas, marinades and dressings.

1 comment:

Kelli said...

Oh, so yum!! Did you hear me in your dreams asking you what you do with extra basil? I had a great big smile when I saw your post this morning, as that was exactly the question I had intended to throw your way!
(My new fave grilled sandwich is cheese, pesto, and tomato -- mmmmm.)