Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A New Way to Pesto

The diminishing quality of pine nuts on the market over the last couple of years has brought disappointment to many-a-pesto-lover in the kitchen, given the high cost of these special nuts.

Many reviews and comments about pine nuts referenced a lingering bitter taste in the mouth that became known as "pine mouth," which was especially troublesome since it was impossible to know by look or smell if the nut you had on hand was good or bad. Even the FDA got involved, read here.

Making pesto can be costly enough, if you have to purchase all the ingredients from the store -- olive oil, fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, and nuts. Thus, I for one, wasn't thrilled about dropping cash on nuts that may ruin a whole batch, let alone leave me clawing at my tongue for weeks to get rid of that awful taste.

Thus, I searched for an alternative, and low and behold, I found one. Garbanzo beans.

However, if you want to avoid making glorified humus, preparation of the pesto requires a couple tricks.

First, you have to bake the beans in the oven at 225 degrees for about 40 minutes. Second, you MUST be sure to add lemon juice. This ingredient is essential, and I will warn you that many recipes floating out there on the web for this garbanzo bean alternative to pesto have omitted it. Unfortunately, those who don't know any better will be highly disappointed, and likely voicing my own son's remarks after tasting the first trial batch, which were, "That's not good." (Note: remarks have been modified to protect reputations of all parties involved.)

Fortunately, I didn't throw out the batch, and after a fair amount of reflection over what I'd done, I realized what was missing, and the pesto was easily saved. (Note: it always helps to refer back to your own original recipes.)

Pesto can be prepared for a variety of uses. I tend to use mine for cracker and sandwich spreads, so it has a thicker consistency than what may be drizzled over pasta.  Whatever your fancy, you can modify the recipe to suit your needs. Pesto is highly forgiving that way. Want a pasta dressing? Then add more oil, and back off a bit on the beans.

Enjoy your own experiments, and have fun welcoming pesto back into your kitchen (with a better budget, too!)

Pesto with Garbanzo Beans

1 can garbanzos
2 cups fresh basil, packed
1 cup Parmesan cheese
4 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice

(optional: add 2 medium, seeded, roma tomatoes)

Mix all together in a food processor.

Serve what you need, and Freeze the rest in smaller tuperwares for up to 6 months.

I've posted a lot about pesto before. For the original tomato pesto recipe, go here.

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