Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Feb 16th - Jumbo Walnut and Gorgonzola Tortellini in Basil Pesto Sauce

Duso's Pasta Counter
Pesto is very simple to make and tastes so much better if you do it yourself. In addition to the freshness, you can play with the herbs and nuts you use. Now the original or rather standard is Basil. Basil ground with only oil is called Pistou and the French will claim it as their own and that the Italians 'bastardised' it by adding cheese and pinenuts. That is called Pesto Genovese. You can replace pinenuts with almonds, walnuts or cashews. I wouldn't recommend you do all cashews or walnuts though. Cashews are too soft and heavy and walnuts too strong. Do not try it with peanuts. Blech. My favourite is the standard pinenuts with a mix of fresh Basil and Arugula (aka Rocket). The arugula adds a nice sharpness. You can also use mustard greens or other herbs.

I usually make large batches and freeze the remainder in ice cube trays. I use more garlic than most and more pepper. Don't try to freeze it in one large container. You'll be cursing me as you hack at it with a knife and hammer later. It can keep like this for over a year. Wrap tightly so they don't absorb neighboring flavours.

Basil and Arugula Pesto

3 cups basil leaves
3 cups arugula leaves
1 cup parmesan or pecorino cheese, grated
1 cup pinenuts
1 cup olive oil (+/- 1/4 cup depending on consistency you like)
7 cloves garlic
2 t fresh black pepper
1/2 lemon, zest and juice

In your food processor, blitz the leaves. Add more leaves as more spaces is created with the blitzing. Add the garlic and pulse until chopped. Add the cheese and pinenuts. Pulse until the consistence of a tapenade or fine, well blended mince. Add the zest and juice, for the brightness in flavour and keeps the basil slightly greener. Season to taste. With the spout open, drizzle in the oil until you see the consistency you like. THIS WILL MAKE ALOT ALOT. But I bought a big big bunch of farm fresh arugula.

When you're ready to eat from frozen, take out 1.5 to 2 cubes per person and let defrost in the bowl as you cook or nuke for a bare 10-15 seconds. The high oil and water content will melt it really quickly. Toss the cooked pasta directly into the pesto.

We bought tonight's Walnut and Gorgonzola Tortellini from Duso's on Granville Island in the Public Market. They have a fantastic selection of fresh pasta, cheeses and other italian goodies ready to eat. after visiting some of the Olympic pavillions on Sunday. They were handmade and far more homey looking that the rest in the counter. Though all their pasta is quite nice. It is slightly more expensive than in little Italy but it is definitely more central.

They're large so boil for 12-14 minutes. Gently toss in the pesto, with some of the pasta water.

YUMMO! The gorgonzola was very gentle and there were still chunks of walnut in the filling. Very nice! Start with only 2 T of pesto each. You don't want to drown out the filling, particularly the gorzonola.

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