Anyone can be "the family chef". You just need good recipes and techniques! Chef Amy Fothergill shares her best recipes with you for quick and easy dishes with an emphasis on gluten-free.

Get information here about her cookbook, The Warm Kitchen: Gluten-Free Recipes Anyone Can Make and Everyone Will Love.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Best-o Pesto

I remember when I first moved to California. I had never heard of a Farmer's Market back east. Sure, we had farm stands but I grew up in the country. Back then, everything was organic; my neighbor was dropping off bags of zucchini she grew in her yard. Man, that makes me sound old. "Kids, when I was your age, grandma made me pick green beans and onions in the back yard."

Ok, I'm getting off the subject. So, I started going to Farmer's Markets here because I thought it was cool. I especially liked any dips or bread I could get. I did dabble with roasted beets on the encouragement of a farmer. I think that's when I started to "get it". Soon after, I'd start coming home with bags of fresh veggies to cook up.

Where I live now, there's a weekly Farmer's Market. I have to say, I've gotten quite good at what's in season, what's a good price and how to use what I've brought home. It's quite fun to go and sort of create dishes on the fly, just by being inspired by what's in a basket on a table.

Last weekend, I was planning on making some vegetable soup for some friends. When I walked by one booth and saw all of the herbs, particularly the basil, I thought "Hmm, that soup would be SO much better with a dollup of pesto." And that's how this all began.

I know. I could have just said that I bought some basil but I wanted to give you the backstory first. If you know me, you know there's always a story.

This is a great example of how simple ingredients are just simply delicious. Pesto is so easy to make. You can prepare it in a blender, food processor or even with an immersion blender. Follow the directions below and use it for pasta, a hearty soup, on bread, with tomatoes, for your tomato sauce, or on a sandwich. It will keep in the fridge at least a week (keep some olive oil on top and it will last even longer) and you can even freeze it.

As always, I hope you are inspired and I encourage you to taste the difference between this and store bought. I doubt you'll be disappointed.

Amy's Pesto
2 cups of fresh, organic basil
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated romano cheese (or 1 cup of either but use good, Italian cheese!)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 - 1/2 cup good quality olive oil

Pulse basil in processor. Add all other ingredients. Add more oil unti the proper consistency of a paste is reached. Keep oil on top to keep fresh and prevent browning.

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