Life, style & food in the District
My new(ish) basil plant is the $7 gift that keeps on giving—That is, as long as I remember to water it on a daily basis.
I cannot even tell you how many times I’ve ventured out to the balcony, while cooking dinner, to retrieve a handful or two of fresh basil to add to a dish. The number is countless.
And while fresh basil adds a unique summer flavor to almost any dish, nothing shouts summer like a fresh batch of basil pesto.
Pesto is one of those things that is always good, no matter how it is used (on top of pizza, mixed in with pasta, slathered on a piece of bread, you name it).
This evening, I used a small batch of fresh pesto (yes, with basil picked right from the balcony) to add to a roasted veggie sandwich I was making. The deep flavor of the slowly roasted vegetables (eggplant, red peppers, zucchini and onion) was such a wonderful contrast to the zip, fresh tang of the basil pesto. And eating this sandwich on warmed ciabatta (as in, the bread was still warm from when I picked it up from the market after work) was the icing on this delicious veggie sandwich.
Unlike most pesto recipes, I actually don’t bother using nuts (pine nuts, traditionally) in my recipe. To be honest, it adds to the cost and inconvenience (since I don’t keep pine nuts stocked in my cabinet), and you don’t have to worry about serving any friends, kiddos or kiddo-friends with nut allergies (you can never be too careful these days).
2 ½ cups of tightly packed basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic
½ cup of shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
In a food processor, blend the basil, the garlic and the cheese for a few seconds (10-15). Scrape down the sides and start the machine back up. While the mixture is blending, slowly drizzle in about ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil until it all starts to come together. Stop the blade again and scrape down the sides – Add salt and pepper to taste. (Be careful with the salt! Parmigiano-Reggiano is a salty cheese and already provides a lot of salt to the pesto.) Continue to mix until the pesto has reached its desired taste and consistency.
Roasted Vegetable and Pesto Sandwiches
1 small eggplant
2 small zucchinis
½ of a white onion
1 jar of roasted red peppers
Olive oil and salt
On a baking sheet, layout thinly sliced pieces of eggplant, zucchini and onion. Brush each piece with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Roast in a 375 degree oven for about one hour or until the veggies have reached the desired “roasted” color.
Halve a fresh ciabatta loaf length-wise and spread the two sides with the pesto. Layer on the oven roasted veggies, as well as the jarred roasted red peppers. Cut and enjoy! Perfect to take on a picnic or to pack for lunch!