I have a love/hate relationship with nuts.
Love because they taste delicious and I wants to eat them.
Hate...because they don't like me so much.
Specifically, they make my tongue and face itchy. Now, I've been told by "doctors" that this is an "allergic reaction," and I could possibly go into "anaphylactic shock" if I continue to eat them, but what do they know?
Still, until I figure out a way to scratch the inside of my eustachian tubes when they get all itchy (the most infuriating feeling ever), I will avoid tree nuts. Or at least until I make another appointment with my allergist to determine which tree nuts are off limits.
So, uh, what they hell do I do when my basil plant, which started out as less than 6 inches tall, grows to be over 3 feet tall and just as wide? Obviously the first thing to pop into my mind was to make pesto. It would use a LOT of the plant, and I could trim it down and give some of the more crowded stalks some breathing room.
Trouble is, I have no idea how I will react to pine nuts. So we do an experiment: Buy expensive pine nuts. Eat one. Tongue is itchy. Damn it!
Repeat for posterity. Itchy tongue. Son of a bitch. Granted, it could very well be psychosomatic (in my head) but I refuse to believe I would create an adverse reaction to something I want to eat so badly. Besides, they are so delicious 🙁
Nut Free Pesto:
You will need:
- 3-4 cups fresh basil leaves
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- About 1/4 cup quality parmesan cheese, grated
- Splash of fresh lemon juice
- About 1/2 cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Pick through your basil, finding the pretty, fragrant leaves. If you don't have the full 3 cups you can add some of the less ripe or saggy leaves, they just won't add much flavor. If you have a powerful food processor you don't need to do anything to the leaves. Since I only had my blender, I gave my basil a quick chop so that the pieces were small enough to not clog up the blades.
Mince your garlic by hand or with the food processor, then add the basil and parm and start to blend it. If it's not spinning, you might have to reach your hand in (with it turned off, duh. Please don't blame me for losing a finger) and pull out the whole mess, plop it onto a cutting board and cut it up smaller.
While it's being pulverized, add the olive oil. When it's super creamy and pesto-y, add the lemon juice, taste, and season as needed!
You'd be suprised to discover how little this recipe makes. When you start out with SO MUCH BASIL and you get just an itty bitty amount of pesto, you're like, "bummer."
But this is concentrated gold, people. You can freeze it and it'll last forever, and then use it as a base for your pasta sauce.
Creamy pesto pasta sauce:
- 1/2 cup pesto
- 1 tbs evoo
- 1/4 cup heavy cream (or milk plus flour to thicken it up)
- salt and pepper
- half pound of pasta
In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil and then add the pesto, stirring often. Add the milk/cream, whisk in some flour if it's too thin, add some pasta water if it's too thick. Season with salt and pepper, toss with your pasta, and voila!
Flavorful and fragrant pasta sauce.
...unless you count the chef.
Pesto recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
Creamy pesto pasta recipe adapted from She Wears Many Hats