Friday, August 5, 2011

Pesto, Tomato, and Goat Cheese Sandwiches

Big bags of slightly bruised basil are arriving weekly from the CSA, the basil in my garden is trying to go to flower, and every neighbor I stop to chat with offers me some...fresh basil!  I love basil, but it does not save well, unless of course it's made into pesto!  One of the things I've discovered lately about pesto is that it is endlessly variable. 

There's a basic pesto base: dark leafy green, garlic, olive oil, nuts, and grated hard salty cheese.  Spinach is a great substitute for basil, and walnuts or almonds can esaily replace pine nuts, and romano, ricotta salata, or even queso seco can be used in place of parmesan.  for extra richness, add butter.  Use about 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/2 cup cheese per 2 cups of greens, but that's really give or take 1/4 cup, a small or large handfull of nuts is nice, and the garlic can be anywhere from 1-4 cloves... Put it all in a cuisinart for a few minutes, and voila.  If you're going to freeze it, which you can very easily, you can leave out the cheese and butter till you take it back out and thaw, or not. 

Pesto pizza is a particularly delicious way to get 6 and under crowd to eat greens, but for a quicker and perhaps more elegant option, pesto sandwiches are great.  I've been making a sourdough walnut bread from Nancy Silverton's LeBrea Bread Book that brings out the nutty quality of the pesto, especially if you've made the pesto with walnuts.  As you can guess from all of the different ways they're put together, tomatoes and pesto are a great match. A few dabs of goat cheese turn into into the traditional Italian red, green, and white, and make it more of a meal.  Eat it cold, or pass it under the broiler for 5 minutes!