Summer Inspiration – Pesto 3 Ways

Pesto is a summertime gift. Abundant basil makes creating variations of this nutrient dense sauce or dip amazing. Every year at this time we go a bit overboard and make different recipes until we’re fairly saturated. As my mother would say, “if you eat anymore of that it’s going to grow out of your ears“.   As much as I try, it hasn’t happened yet.

Kale/Walnut Pesto

First up was a classic Pesto Paste that we made for our breakfast omelette to get fueled for our day in the kitchen. We chose a classic kale, basil and walnut combo.

  • 1 cup basil
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 to 4 tbsp olive oil

Method: Put all ingredients in a mason jar and mash it up with your hand blender the final product is a dense paste. The thicker the better as it will combine with the egg mixture and not get too runny if it has too much moisture. (Tip: make sure your basil and kale are fully dried, after you wash them)

Cooking an omelette correctly is part method but mostly practice. My mom was not a big fan of eggs on their own when I was young so it wasn’t until I spent time with the talented Chef Mara Jernigan (https://www.instagram.com/marajernigan) that I really learnt what was happening to the eggs as they cooked. This knowledge helped to get my method and timing right. I use her french method that is a bit undercooked in the middle and it’s by far my favourite way to eat an omelette.

We DO NOT use treated non-stick frypans, ever. So, making perfect eggs takes using the perfect pan. For omelettes I always use a de Buyer 10″ or 11″, very well-seasoned, carbon steel frypan. These are naturally non-stick when well seasoned with grapeseed oil. Done right, they work exactly (yes, exactly) like Teflon coated pans.

The omelette:

Put the pan on 2/3 heat to preheat for at least 60 to 90 seconds

Mix:

  • 3 cage free eggs (farm fresh is preferable!)
  • a big pinch of salt
  • a dash of olive oil
  • Mix well with a small whisk or fork

To cook: add 1 tsp of grapeseed oil to the preheated pan and roll all around. Pour in the mixture and within 6 to 8 seconds scrape the mixture with a spatula in from the edges so you make a very light scramble that gives the mixture some texture. Let cook until the mixture starts to harden up but is still a bit jelly on the surface. Add pesto liberally. With your spatula, lift one side over the other and slide the omelette onto your plate. Voila.

Pesto Dip

We’re a big dip family, partly because I love to use my Bamix or Vitamix to make short work of getting dinner on the table. I make flat bread all the time. Sometimes fermented, sometimes not. We make guacamole, hummus and bean dip almost weekly but keep pesto for the special time of year when it’s locally in season. Basil is one of those foods that is way better when fresh. Making a dip is simple if you have the pesto recipe nailed, just add something like avocado, cooked artichoke or leek, and increase your salt and olive oil.

You may have noticed that the pesto recipe didn’t contain lemon. This is intentional as I don’t like the zing of lemon in my omelette but you can of course add whatever you want! This is a simple recipe with avocado for weight

  • 2 cups basil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • Juice 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil (depends on how thick you like it)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 avocado

Method: Toss it all into a big mason jar and plunge in your hand blender. Mix to your desired texture.

The bread is a high hydration quick dough. You can make it in a pinch, or when home late.

  • 500 grams flour
  • 4% salt
  • 2% yeast
  • about 70% water. This can change depending on your flour, white vs. whole wheat

Combine dry, add water. Mix hard for 5 to 7 minutes. Let sit covered for 20 min.

Pour the mixture onto a well floured surface and divide into 4 balls. Shape and let rest for 5 min. Take each ball and shape flat (whole wheat is harder to handle). Bring your pan to temperature and cook till browned on both sides.

Dairy Free Pesto

To many, not having parmesan in pesto is a sacrilege, however my girl is sensitive to dairy. A few years ago we made a whole change away from dairy and we’ve found that we really don’t miss it. We’ve replaced many of the flavours and textures with alternatives…. Say Hello Ice Cream anyone? Oh, yes please.

We’d picked up a bag of sifted whole durum 00 flour from GRAIN and I was fascinated to make pasta with it. I combine whatever flour I’m using with 50% Semolina to help my pasta keep a good texture and not become so glutinous.

Pasta Dough

  • 2 Cup Semolina
  • 2 Cup 00 Durum Flour from GRAIN
  • 1 medium egg per 1/2 cup of flour (be careful not to go too wet so start with 6 eggs and build as needed)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt

Making pasta dough is super fun for me. When I was a young kid, my mom was a potter and I loved working the clay in her studio. Making pasta dough is not much different, and the consistency of what you want as an end result is the same. I used the Atlas 180 pasta machine that made quick work of a load of pasta.

The kids are out of school and they came to the kitchen with their mom close to lunchtime so we quickly planned a picnic.  I substituted nutritional yeast for parmesan, which my daughter now prefers. The added benefit of nutritional yeast is that it’s packed with B vitamins and amino acids, which as a vegetarian family, we’re always paying attention to.

Pesto

  • 2 cups basil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • Juice 1/2 lemon
  • 2/3 olive oil
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Again, like all the other recipes, just toss everything into a jar and blend to a point that you like it.

Once the pasta is cooked, toss in a big bowl with the pesto. Add more lemon and salt as desired. We grabbed the Alfresco melamine bowls and Govino plastic cups and headed down to the park! The GRAIN pasta was a hit. The kids don’t eat that much pasta, and even less white pasta, so they’ve developed a taste for whole wheat. The depth of flavour in the GRAIN 00 flour is awesome, and highly recommended.

Our friends at GRAIN are having their next Pop Up shop at Main Street Brewing on July 22nd and Aug 19th.

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