Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mark Picone's Lime Basil Pesto

Thanks Mark , for sharing your recipe using the very unique 'Lime Basil" that I am growing in the garden this year.  Lime Basil is one of the seeds I received as a test gardener for Organic Gardening magazine
It is quite different, so folks were a bit puzzled what to do with it. So I turned to the experts!

It was the captivating aroma of the bruised leaves that first caught my attention or was it the sheer tenderness of flavour when I tasted it?  Linda offered this `new’ lime basil to me a few weeks back and said to have some fun with it.  Food is meant to be shared – the true essence of any chef is just that; what we call hospitality! 
My first thought was pesto, that quintessential summer sauce.  It’s verdant green accentuated by olive oil, nuts and cheese.  Ancient forms dating back to the Romans included garlic, vinegar and ewe’s milk.  In recent times, it has been closely associated with Liguria and, specifically, Genoa.  
Purists would say that a `pesto’ (pestle - the technique of using a mortar and pestle) be pounded.  Nowadays, a food processor is the tool of choice. Regardless, the classic basil version is just one interpretation of an open-ended technique. If extra is made, freeze in small batches so that you can enjoy it throughout the seasons.
Lime Basil and Toasted Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Makes about 2 cups
4 cups  lime basil, picked and washed
1 cup flat parsley, picked and washed
½ cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
½  cup Monforte Toscano cheese, grated
sea salt, freshly ground pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil to desired consistency, about 1 cup
Blend basil and parsley in a food processor with just enough olive oil to make a semi thick paste (about a half cup). Add remaining ingredients and blend well. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and add more olive oil to desired consistency. 
The versatility of this sauce is tremendous.  Try tossing with summer beans and new crop potatoes for a delightful side dish or spooned over grilled trout. It would also make a great filling for an omelet with sautéed field mushrooms.

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