What cookbook would you take to the hypothetical desert island? I would have to lug my tome, New Best Recipes, from America’s Test Kitchen. I consult this indispensable volume more than any other of my hundreds of cookbooks. In fact, I just did their zucchini bread recipe in my last post. Their pesto recipe is simply outstanding.
(To my consistent readers, I decided to put Wednesday’s What Would Jessie Dish? on hiatus until after summer, ongoing renovations at the moment, and a trip with my mother to Maine for the upcoming week. The remaining recipes were all very autumnal, and I thought it best to wait and highlight seasonal summer dishes. Sorry, but it will return in just a few weeks!)
ATK is so thorough and creative in testing the many permutations, techniques, and varieties of ingredients to create the ultimate recipes. Sometimes they are a bit fussy, but this is based on their experimentation to produce the best taste, texture, and finished product. One thing I do find is that their recipes tend towards the less hot (spicy) side, so I often will up the heat or add a bit, when I feel like it.
I had made a few recipes for pesto before trying ATK’s, and this one really is best. Toasting garlic and nuts adds a bit of time, but it is worth it to highlight the flavours, creating depth, subtlety, and nuttiness – what more can you ask for in life?
On our island, we have a garlic growing cooperative, and I was able to participate in a couple of sessions (prepping, cultivation, planting, weeding, harvesting), which gave me 40 bulbs of organic Russian hard-neck porcelain garlic – if you really want to know the variety. It was an interesting experience, and I now have quite a bit of garlic for the upcoming colder months.
The basil we have been growing on the deck (it is not deer-proof, though it is supposed to be) has been doing well the past few years, with our southern exposure. Around this time of year, I have plenty of basil – and combined with a bounty of garlic – making pesto for the winter is a good idea. So I tripled the ingredients, and the three batches went along much more quickly than doing each one separately, of course.
For more on storing the classic basil pesto and the recipe… Continue reading