In our travels, Robert and I often skip restaurants in favor of a more intimate option... picnics! I've written quite a bit about the limited offerings of Danish grocery stores, so it's a treat to browse the aisles of a well stocked supermarket or delicatessen when we're abroad.
One of my favorite places to do this is in Italy... pesto, bread, olives, cheese, marinated artichokes, grilled aubergine and peppers, red wine, it's a vegetarian's heaven! One evening overlooking Lake Como from our hotel balcony, as I greedily scooped pesto into my boca with crusty bread while professing my undying love for pesto and claiming I was never going to leave Italy... at least not to go back to Denmark, Robert promised to make me as much pesto as I could eat if I'd join him back in Denmark for the medium term ;-)
I was skeptical. He'd just asked me to marry him, and several people knew he was taking me to Bellagio
, so it would've looked pretty bad for him if he'd come back without me. Really, he'd have said anything to get me back to Denmark!
But the man not only delivered delicious pesto, but a recipe appeals to my frugal sensibilities. Pine nuts are notoriously expensive. In Denmark, they'll bankrupt you, or at least make it so you can never afford to go back to Italy. So Robert uses the most brilliant pesto hack ever... he makes his pesto using almonds instead of pine nuts!
I was a bit judgmental at first. Then I tasted it and I thought it was delicious, so he brought some to an Italian colleague who gave it her stamp of approval. And with that endorsement, I'll share Robert's frugal pesto recipe with you...
1 large basil plant, approx. 40g of leaves
1 large garlic clove
70g grana padano
1/2 - 3/4 cup olive oil
pinch of salt
Separate the basil leaves from the stems... as you can see in the first photo, you don't have to be meticulous about it.
Cut the garlic and the cheese into small pieces and add it to a medium size bowl along with the basil leaves, almonds, 1/2 cup of oil, and a pinch of salt.
Blend together the ingredients with an immersion blender until the pesto is smooth. If it's thicker than you'd like, blend in more oil a bit at a time until it's your favorite consistency. If you think it needs it, you can add more salt, but the cheese is quite salty, so a pinch should do it.
For aesthetic reasons, you can blanch the almonds and remove the skins, but it doesn't seem to affect the taste one way or the other.
We like this spread on crusty bread, as a star ingredient in caprese panini
, on boiled potatoes, or as you see it here on grilled aubergine and halloumi sandwiches
With this post, I'll wish you a happy Thanksgiving! Robert's parents will be visiting from England later in the week, and I'm cooking a Thanksgiving dinner on Friday and looking forward to spending time with my new family. I'll see you here next week, or maybe on Facebook
before then :)
Labels: food, italy, recipes, vegetarian