Monday, July 19, 2010

UnRecipe: Pesto, It's What's for Dinner!

Earlier posts have shown Le Jardin de Wasabi and you could see that the bulk of the harvest so far has been mostly herbs. Not wanting anything to go to waste, I've been snipping bouquet-size handfuls of lemon balm and mint, and making a non-traditional pesto. One of the best things it's been good for is slathering onto a just-grilled bit of pork for a pleasant summertime dinner!

Pork, Pesto and Potatoes - Easy P-sey Dinner - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Yeah, yeah, nuttin' fancy, but when you're in the middle of a heatwave, the last thing you want to do is be cooking over a hot stove and heating the house any more than you have to. Outdoor grilling has the benefit of keeping the heat outside as well as that fantastic grill mark sear with a fast cook time. Per usual, this meal had no real planning. I had defrosted some boneless pork chops and put them in a quick brine, had some leftover sweet potato gratin that I had made for a post on the Wisconsin Cheese Talk blog, and yes -- mystery herb pesto!

I don't think there's any Cardinal Rule that pesto has to be the combination of basil, parsley, Parmesan, garlic, pine nuts and olive oil. Pesto can really be any herby paste full of flavor, kind of like a tapenade, which I've also seen many variants on. The lemon and mint combine nicely for a light, almost Mediterranean flavor, and I added garlic, Parmesan and plain almonds for a bit of crunch. For the handfuls of herbs trimmed away, they buzzed down to about two jelly jars' worth of pesto. Granted, it looks more like the illegitimate child of pea soup and baby poo, but trust me, the flavor is there, and mixed into sauces or a topping over pork, poultry or fish, and it's delicious pea soup/baby poo.

Grillin' With Mr. Wasabi - Photos by Wasabi Prime

It was nice to use the grill -- we've not been using it as much as we should, considering it's summer, but seeing those lovely grill marks, it's a good reminder of why it's such a satisfying cooking process in both flavor as well as aesthetic. People love to see that cross-hatch of caramelized goodness, almost to the point where you want to take a Sharpie and start drawing them on everything!

As for the pesto, those two jars got quite a bit of meal-mileage; by the time this post went live, I'd used them to flavor roasted veggies, in a yogurt sauce to toss with a cold potato salad, breakfast frittatas, and another potato gratin as well as topping a few more pork/chicken dinners. By the time the last jar was scraped clean, I think our herb garden is due for another snipping, and this time I'll probably include more herbs including basil and parsley, making the mystery pesto that much more mysterious with flavor! Cheers to summer and frantic garden cooking!
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1 comment:

  1. This looks really yummy. If you'd like a tutorial on pesto making, check out our blog today on Kitchen Scoop. Thanks!


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