In the past year, I’ve fallen away from most of the cooking groups I was with, or they’ve fallen away…one or the other. The upshot of this is that I no longer have anything that steers me in any particular direction when putting together weekly menus. I’ve found I don’t particularly care for that! “Monthly” groups aren’t quite enough help either…and then I stumbled upon IHCC…scheduled but not overly rigid…enough flex to be creative…I like that! Since “Green” is the theme of the moment…I chose to make Genovese Pesto as my first dish.
It is said that our sense of smell is closely associated with memory…which explains why when we smell certain things, we are instantly transported in our minds to another place and time… Basil is a memory trigger of Summer for me. When I smell Genovese Basil, “summer” comes flooding into my head. Seeing the tubs of freshly cut basil at the Farmers’ Market yesterday helped me truly understand why there’s this particular association…it’s hot outside…the basil is so aromatic you can smell it two vendor’s stalls away… It’s been awhile since I’ve made pesto, we were on a mission for the day, so ravioli with pesto sounded like the perfect thing to choose for dinner, and for our Green dish as well! Truthfully… I had a few candidates….anything in poblano cream…chile rellenos…som tam (seriously, can you eat it too often?)… However with the beautiful bunches and the scent in the air…I had to cave!
I immediately reached for my Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan and read through the familiar recipe…then I reached for How to Cook Italianby her son, Giuliano Hazan. The recipes are almost identical, calling for the same ingredients in just slightly different quantities… Both the Hazan family recipes call for fresh basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, romano cheese, parmesan cheese and extra virgin olive oil. I was planning to use “olive oil” and realized that this is a fresh sauce, worthy of the EVOO…enter Stonehouse House Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil…which is actually grown in my “neighborhood,” meaning literally grown a few miles from my home. I confess that I didn’t make the ravioli this time…and I didn’t realize I had some homemade in the freezer. We selected a fresh Arugula and cheese ravioli from Trader Joe’s, and it really was a great combination.
Giuliano’s pesto recipe made enough for about 4 entree servings of pasta. Marcella’s would have made 6 servings. After hearing all the appreciative murmurings coming from the seat next to me during supper, I think this was a hit, and having 2 extra servings of sauce isn’t a bad thing. Pesto also freezes very well…as long as you top the container with a bit of olive oil to keep the air out… Pesto oxidizes (turns dark) very, very quickly when exposed to the air. Since I have enough basil to make another full batch, that will be what I do with the 2nd batch…it will be frozen for a meal in the future.
Next week the theme of IHCC will be “Feel the Heat” and be focused on chiles… I can hardly wait to see where that leads me! LOL!! Especially since I just bought a branch of Thai Bird Chiles…she said they weren’t as intense when they’re green….we’ll see about that!!