Wednesday, August 3, 2011

seedGROW August Update: Pesto Pizza Homecoming

By Nellie Boonman, Marketing Assistant
Neighborhood cat "guarding"
my seedGROW project
This is the third month of the seedGROW project for Renee's Garden, and I just got back from a big, fun Europe trip with my sister It was exciting to come home, walk out into my backyard, and see how HUGE everything got while I was gone compared to when I last saw my plants. My roommates were great sports: conveniently taking care of watering, fertilizing, and taking pictures for me so I could blog from abroad. Even the neighborhood cat got in on the action, fiercely guarding the plants from a lofty position on the hay bale.

Cameo Basil, looking beautiful - Summer Splash
Marigolds with their first blooms in the back

Since my arrival back into Santa Cruz last week, I've been busy in the kitchen after work. I haven't had access to a kitchen and green vegetables for a while, so I'm finding it enjoyable to be able to walk outside, pick some herbs, bust out the food processor, and whip up a batch of something green.

I also harvested a few heads of the Garden Babies lettuce, and made some tasty summer salads with Trombetta Squash, green beans, and feta.
Garden Babies Butterhead
Summer salads
Renee suggested I make her Classic Fresh Pesto Sauce and share it with our blog readers. I was craving pesto pizza, but the sauce tossed with pasta is delicious, too.
Cameo Basil growing in the container
Renee's Classic Fresh Pesto Sauce
Personal preference: I stir the microplaned cheese in
after blending everything else. If you are freezing pesto sauce, I recommend
leaving the cheese & garlic out until you are ready to serve.
Classic Fresh Pesto Sauce
3 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 large, peeled garlic cloves (more if you love it, but I only used 1)
1/2 cup pine nuts or pecan meats (I used walnuts)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
1 teaspoon fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
1/2 to 2/3 cup fruity olive oil
salt to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender, adding enough olive oil to make a thick, smooth sauce.  Pour the pesto out into a bowl with help from a spatula. If you are going to use the pesto sauce immediately, stir in the grated cheese and add salt and pepper to taste. Add to hot pasta or spread on top of rolled-out pizza dough, serve with a crisp salad. If you plan on freezing the pesto sauce, don't incorporate the cheese or garlic until after it's defrosted and you plan on serving it.

If you want to make the pizza, it's easy - just roll out some pizza dough (homemade or store-bought), spread a layer of pesto on top, add some fresh sliced mozzarella, thinly sliced tomatoes, and sliced, cooked Italian sausage. Top with more Parmesan if you like, bake at 425 degrees for at least 15 minutes, and check on the pizza every few minutes after that.
A thick layer of pesto never hurt anyone
Pizza fresh out of the oven

I look forward to seeing the updates from the other seedGROW bloggers to see how their seeds are doing - you can check them too by going to the seedGROW website. See you again in September!

- Nellie
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