Brilliant Green Pesto


I have been searching for a pesto recipe, trying to find one that holds a vibrant green color and has a soft, balanced flavor. After a few failed attempts of my pesto turning dark as soon as I stirred it into a bowl of spaghetti, or when I opened my fridge the following day, I started buying jars of it, rather than making it myself. It was also a rather messy process: the unruly, voluminous basil had to be processed in small bunches. I never liked the spicy, strong aftertaste of raw garlic, either, but when I made pesto omitting the garlic, I could sense a flavor missing. The jars were convenient, though they did lack the essential fresh grassy taste of homemade pesto. And the portions were tiny for a steep price.

I found the perfect consistency in the pesto a friend of mine made. He used walnuts rather than pine nuts (cheaper), and chopped them himself instead of processing them with the basil. This way, he achieved a chunky pesto that held a nice crunch when combined with pasta or added as a base for a sandwich.
This recipe brings together what I find are the best elements for a good pesto. The basil is blanched, surprisingly retaining its unique fragrance while keeping a brilliant green coloring. The garlic, too, is blanched, to remove some of its spiciness and pungency. The walnuts are chopped to your desired size, allowing you to play with crunch. My pesto held well for three days in the fridge, preserving its flavor and beautiful, deep green hue. It was also the easiest thing to make. I see this as a once a week recipe, but then again, I could eat pesto with just about anything… bread, pasta, crackers, chicken, fish, rice, or on a spoon.

Adapted from The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adrià
I reduced the quantity of this recipe so it makes less, enough for three portions of spaghetti, and plenty more to spread on bread or eat by the spoon over two days.
150g basil (about two bunches) washed carefully to remove all grit and dirt
2 garlic cloves, sliced in half, the heart removed
1/3 cup walnuts
3/4 to 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle at the end
1 cup Parmesan, grated (you can also do 1/4 cup Pecorino and 3/4 Parmesan)
Salt, to taste (I use a good quality salt, fleur de sel)
Bring a large pot of water to boil and blanch the basil for five seconds. Run under cold water and squeeze dry. Set aside.
Place the cut garlic cloves in a small saucepan filled with cold water. Bring to a boil, remove the garlic and transfer to a bowl of ice water.
Chop the walnuts into small chunks. I cut my walnuts finely, leaving a few larger pieces so my pesto is crunchy. Set aside.
Coarsely chop the wilted basil.
Put the basil, blanched garlic, and olive oil in a large bowl. Using an immersion, hand held blender, process the mixture a few times to make a coarse mixture. You don’t want it to be too saucy, so only pulse a few times.
Stir in the cheese, the walnuts, and the salt. Taste as you go along, adding more salt if needed, and more olive oil if the pesto is too thick and dry.
Transfer into small containers for storage or spoon onto fresh pasta or spread onto thick slices of bread. Cover the container(s) with a thin layer of oil when storing.
Spinach, Feta, Onion Quiche

The crust for this quiche is salty, firm, and buttery. It cooks perfectly and keeps for many days without turning soggy. My little brothers kept breaking the crust from the quiche as if it were a savory biscuit. I am a lover of green vegetables, so I added copious amounts of spinach to this one, giving it a dense, green base. The lightly caramelized onions provide a touch of sweetness and, as a wise friend once told me, everything is better with caramelized onions. The top of the quiche cooks beautifully: it is slightly puffed and golden. You can cook the quiche a few hours before serving and eat at room temperature, or warm it in the oven just before eating. It is most delicious if served with a green salad.
Recipe for the quiche crust from Les Pates et Tartes de Christophe by Christophe Felder
(I recommend weighing your ingredients for the perfect crust)
200g of flour
5g salt
90g butter
1 egg
Drizzle of water
Mix flour, butter and salt in a food processor until you achieve a fine, sandy consistency.
Add the egg and enough water and mix until the dough comes together. Set aside in the fridge for two hours. You can take the dough out a half hour before rolling so it is easier to work with. You can also spread the crust in its pan and leave it in the fridge for another 30 minutes to avoid shrinking when cooking.
4 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
2 bunches of spinach
1 onion, sliced
3/4 cup crumbled feta
Salt and pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven at 350F.
In a large pan, heat a generous drizzle of olive oil and cook the sliced onions for fifteen to twenty minutes until soft and golden. Add 1/3 of the spinach, wait for it to wilt, and continue adding the rest of the spinach. Cook down until there is no more liquid. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the heavy cream. Add salt and pepper to taste, but just a little, as the feta is quite salty. Stir in the feta cheese.
Spread the spinach and onion mixture at the bottom of the crust, then pour the cheese and egg mixture on top. Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes.
Other things I have been eating:

It runs in the family: (making galette batter)

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