Tuesday, March 17, 2009

pesto on tuesday

Feeding myself takes more far more energy here than it ever did as a college student (or as a kid growing up: thanks mom and dad!) Without a fridge, I have to go to the market a couple times a week to get fresh ingredients. Without many of the pre-made jars and mixes I used in the states, I cook from scratch. My cooking skills have improved, since I’m forced to work with what’s available, and I have time to experiment. I have to plan and prepare each meal, and I therefore can usually rattle of the last week’s meals. (In the states, I used to forget what I had for dinner by breakfast the next day.) Because cooking takes up so much of my time and energy, and I’m enjoying learning how, I’d like to start sharing some of the recipes.

Today I loosely followed a recipe from the Peace Corps Cameroon cook book, Chop Fayner (pidgin for “eat well”), to make pesto. What I ended up with passes for pesto, but I was missing a couple ingredients, which I think would’ve greatly improved it. The recipe calls for a blender (ha, Chop Fayner, you kid) but I finely chopped and ground everything instead. I think I would actually recommend this archaic method over having to clean all the blender pieces and sharp blades.

So, here’s the recipe I modified from Chop Fayner:

1 cup fresh basil, chopped (500 cfa worth)
¼ cup olive oil (available at a supermarch√© in your regional capitol)
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese (thanks Mom for that package!)
4 cloves garlic
¼ cup crushed pine nuts (thanks Stephanie!)
Generous pinch of dried parsley
3 tablespoons melted butter*
Salt to taste

Chop the basil and garlic finely. Crush the pine nuts (this was easy because they are a soft nut). Combine everything, and toss with warm pasta. Yum! *When I first made the pesto, I did not bother going out to buy butter. I ate the second half for dinner, but this time bought some butter on the way back from a walk with Honey. It was better with the butter, but still tasted leafy, like the basil was taking over.

I think I’ll be trying again soon, since I still have pine nuts leftover. I’d like to perfect the recipe.

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