Monday, June 27, 2011

The Ultimate Southern Pesto to Dress up Dinner

Oh joy!  A friend gave me a new cookbook last week, Bon Appetite, Y’all by Virginia Willis.  High-brow French cooking meets down home southern - I am in love already.  
I had the best of intentions of diving into the pages over the weekend and cooking up a storm on Sunday.  But the reality of being the on-the-go mother to a toddler set in and I managed only to skim the first few chapters during little man’s nap time.  (I really need one of those time-turners thingies like in the Harry Potter movie, to create some more hours in my day!!)
Today I was determined to try something new from the luscious pages of my new cookbook.  What I came up with was an awesome little super quick recipe, perfect for dressing up ordinary chicken on a typically rushed Monday night.

Pecan-Basil Pistou is Willis’s southern twist on a basic pesto recipe (or pistou which is the French version of the italian classic condiment).  The southern twist, as you may have guessed from the name, is the pecans.  
Pesto is incredibly easy to make it.  There are 5 basic ingredients - fresh basil, garlic, parmesan, pine nuts and olive oil, plus a little salt and pepper for seasoning.  With the aid of a food processor you can whip this recipe up in about 5 minutes.  This southern version swaps out the pine nuts in favor of pecans which add a rich meaty flavor.  I modified the recipe slightly to fit the ingredients I had on hand and my personal taste.

Pesto is an excellent condiment for dressing up pasta, or bread or variety of other foods.  For dinner tonight I added a dollop of my freshly made southern pesto to pan seared chicken.  

My chicken was simple - thin sliced chicken breast seasoned with garlic salt & pepper then quickly seared in a dash of olive oil over medium high heat.  I made the pesto in the food processor while the chicken was sizzling away in the skillet.   After plating the fully cooked chicken, I added a spoonful of of my freshly made pesto right before serving.  It took my chicken from everyday ordinary to Italian-Southern fusion cuisine!  Now that is what I call totally delish!!

The Ultimate Southern Pesto
Total prep time: 5 minutes

  • 2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finally chopped
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 3/4 shredded parmesan
  • 3/4 cup extra-version olive oil (plus extra if needed to get to desired consistency)
  • course salt and freshly ground pepper
Place the basils leaves, chopped garlic, pecans, shredded parmesan and 3/4 cup of olive oil in a food processor.  Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed to get all ingredients fully processed.  
With the food processor running on low, slowly pour in a little more olive oil until the pesto reaches the desired consistency.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Store any left pesto in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.  Or freeze for up to one month.
Tip: If you opt to freeze the pesto, try freezing in an ice cube tray.  When fully frozen, pop out the pesto cubes and store in freezer bag in the freezer.  This way you can easily take out just the portion you want to use.

1 comment:

Lindsey Clark said...

I love variations of pesto. I make a Mexican version with cilantro and jalapeno that I'm in love with.