Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pesto Factory

A few weeks ago, Andy and I decided that we should dig up one of our garden beds, mix some more organic matter into the soil, widen the bed and edge it properly, so that it didn't dry out so much or be infiltrated with grass so easily. The garden bed in question was growing a big, prolific row of rocket (aka arugula), and a straggly, pathetic row of beetroot. So we harvested them, and as Andy dug, I made pesto.
The harvest from our beetroot plants. They weren't so tasty.

This was a serious mission, primarily because we are ill-equipped. Though I sometimes think we are a bit gadget crazy, we don't have a food processor. We have a small mini-chopper, but I smugly thought I would make my pesto by hand in the pestle&mortar.
A pretty big pile of rocket, with some beetroot leaves for pinkness.

This idea, to be quite frank, was a stupid idiot, and I realised as much after one batch. The rocket was stringy, and didn't want to pound down very well. And I would have had to do about 20 batches to get them all done, which would have taken hours for sure.

But I kept the pestle&mortar out and used it to crush up my toasted almonds before they went in to the mini chopper.

 Because it is, ahem, mini, it still took about 6 batches to do. It was a constant, stupid process of making a little batch of pesto, usually in a few stages - crush almonds and garlic, add some rocket, miso and olive oil, blend, add some more rocket, taste, add salt and pepper, and so on - then scraping it out into a bowl and starting again. I had to do a lot of mixing in the bowl, too, because each batch was just a little different. There was pesto and oil EVERYWHERE, and I was feeling a little shmeh at the end from all the tasting of the oily-rich pesto.

But I got there, and managed to make a pretty substantial bowl of pesto.

Andy made me some "lunch" of cucumber & tomato pesto bites, which were really very delicious, and might be a fancy party snack idea.

I transferred the pesto to 6 jars (about 2 meals per jar) and froze 4. We have had pesto on pasta and gnocchi. Because we didn't have any lemon, and because rocket is less exciting than basil, it's never as good as we expect, but it is still yummy.

We've had pesto pizza, too. And we mixed a little pesto in mayo to go with some BBQ veggies.

What's your favourite way to use pesto?


Hannah said...

In truth? My favourite way to use it is by giving it away to someone who actually likes it as quickly as possible ;) But my mum taught me a fun and easy little addition to an antipasto platter, which is scopping out the insides of little cherry tomatos and filling them with pesto. People love them!

Joey said...

I do like pesto! I used to fry mushrooms in it when I was pre-vegan and I bought the jarred stuff, but now days I'm too lazy to make it myself!

Kari said...

I am not a big fan of pesto so am even more impressed with your efforts - if you'd gone through that trouble for something involving dessert I would have understood more ;) I was pretty thrilled to see your beetroot crop because mine is just the same!! Nice and leafy up to, but hardly anything when you pull up the root. I'm sorry you were similarly affected but glad it isn't just me!

Mel said...

Yum, I adore pesto especially mixed with tomato paste on a pizza base. I also love a bit of pesto in sandwiches.

I tried to grow carrots over winter and they were way more pathetic than your beetroots, mind you they didn't get very well looked after!

Mandee said...

Yum! I love pesto and you went to so much effort to make this, well done!! I love pesto on toast, mmm!

Cadry's Kitchen said...

Oh, man! I can't imagine doing all of that with a mortar and pestle! I'm sure you were so glad when it was finished!

Lately my favorite way to enjoy pesto is tossed with hot rice, roasted chickpeas, tomatoes, and olives. I got the idea from Spork Fed. It's very tasty!

urban vegan said...

I'm not gadget crazy either but you need a food processor, esp with your garden. It will change your life. But brava on muddling (hahah) through with the mortar and pestle. I have a book about Liguran food, nd the purists actually believe pesto tastes best made with the there an etymological link there, I wonder?

The end result looks amazing. And I do believe we have the same green bowls ;)

I still have some pesto in the freezer from my summer windowsill harvest. It makes me happy when it's chilly out

FoodandLoathing said...

I love to put it on grilled vegan cheese. It's so easy and if you make your own cheese, the cheese really doesn't even have to be that amazing when it's also got pesto.