A pesto recipe is like a scone recipe for me in that every time I see one, I have to try it. In defense of my sanity though, pesto is a very versatile sauce. It goes well with pasta, smeared on a sandwich, drizzled over vegetables, and could even be a dip. Not only are there many uses, there are also many ways it can be made. In the July/August issue of La Cucina Italiana, there was article about pestos with several recipes which I could not resist. A lemony pesto made with olives was used as a dressing for sea bass crudo on a bed of baby lettuces. I stole the pesto part of that dish and used it instead on a layered salad of raw zucchini and yellow squash slices with fresh mozzarella. Then, I also tried the pesto with two tomatoes which was used as a sauce for spaghetti. That recipe isn’t available online, so I’ll include it below.
To make the pesto di limone, two wide strips of lemon zest were pureed with the juice of a lemon and some olive oil. Then, I was supposed to have used Taggiasche or Gaeta olives, and had I found some green Taggiasche olives the pesto would have been nice and green. Since I used black Gaeta olives, mine was a darker color. The pitted Gaeta olives and two big cups of basil leaves were added to the blender and pureed with the first three ingredients. This resulted in an intentionally thin pesto with a fresh, lemony flavor. The pesto with two tomatoes was just as simple to prepare. First, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, and rinsed and drained salt-packed capers were pureed in the blender. Then, cherry tomatoes, and I found the prettiest dark red, almost purple cherry tomatoes, were added, and it was pureed together until smooth. That pesto was transferred to a large bowl, and grated parmigiano reggiano and chopped chives were added.
The tomato pesto required one half cup of olive oil, and I know I’ve used a lot more oil than that in similar quantities of pesto. Yet, the smooth texture gave it a richness that made it seem more decadent than it was. Of course, the flavor was nicely layered with fresh, juicy tomatoes and the depth of sun-dried tomatoes, and the chives lent just enough bite from the allium family. Both pestos are keepers, and I’m sure I’ll think of different ways to use them each time they’re made.
Pesto ai due Pomodori
from La Cucina Italiana July/August 2009
1 c drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
½ c extra-virgin olive oil
1 t salt-packed capers, rinsed, soaked in cold water for 10 minutes, then rinsed again and drained
2 c cherry tomatoes
3 T freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
1 T chopped fresh chives
-using a blender, puree sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, and capers; add cherry tomatoes and puree until smooth
-add one to two tablespoons water to help blend if needed
-transfer mixture to a bowl and add grated parmiginao reggiano and chives and stir to combine
*Note: This quantity of pesto was used to sauce one pound of spaghetti.