1. On grilled bread.
2. Mixed in with pasta.
3. Served over roast chicken.
4. In a root vegetable tart.
The grilled bread and pasta dishes are straightforward (see below for simple recipes). And it is great as a topping on almost any meat. Here's the story of how the pesto ended up in a tart.
Because of our Full Belly Farm CSA box, I always have a big bin of root vegetables. Last week I had carrots, turnips, parsnips, onions, and delicata squash. I was in the mood to cut vegetables. I ended up with a huge pile of vegetables and no idea what to do with them. I figured I'd better cook them so I threw them all on a sheet pan with some unpeeled garlic cloves, herbs, salt, pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. I cranked the heat up to 425°F. About halfway through the cooking time I pulled the tray out of the oven to check on the vegetables and Dash asked, "That for a tart? Yummy tart." Great idea. So we made our first tart of the decade.
It might have been good with just the vegetables, but I was worried it would be a bit dry. Plus, I wanted it to be more of a meal instead of a side dish. I had a big jar of chunky feta pesto that I'd made the day before. Dash smeared the bottom of the tart shell with the pesto. Then he scooped on the partially roasted vegetables.
He grated lots of parmesan cheese on top. I told Dash he owed me a dollar because he bit off the ENTIRE tip of the parmesan cheese. He went and got me some plastic money and apologized.
Before baking the tart we made a little pile of roast garlic in the center.
"That's my tart. MY tart." said Dash.
CHUNKY PESTO WITH FETA, SUN DRIED TOMATOES, PARSLEY, AND PINE NUTS printable recipe
(makes 2 cups)
-1 1/4 cups crumbled feta cheese
-10 sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
-handful of parsley leaves, roughly chopped
-3 tablespoons olive oil
-1/2 clove garlic, minced or pressed or grated
-juice and zest from 1/2 lemon
-big pinch of salt
-a few turns of pepper
-1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted and hot
In a bowl, mix together feta cheese, sun dried tomatoes, parsley, olive oil, garlic, lemon zest/juice, salt and pepper. Toast pine nuts in the oven or in a pan on the stove until they smell nutty and are lightly browned. Mix hot nuts in with the cheese mixture. Taste for seasoning. Let it sit for a minute and then taste again.
4 THINGS TO DO WITH CHUNKY PESTO:
1. GRILLED BREAD WITH CHUNKY PESTO
-garlic clove, peeled and whole
Toast or grill the bread. When it's still hot rub the garlic clove all over one side of each slice. The garlic will almost melt into the bread. Top with pesto, olive oil, and salt.
2. PASTA WITH CHUNKY PESTO
-1 cup of chunky pesto
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 pound of pasta
-1/2 cup reserved pasta water
Place pesto in a large bowl. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add salt. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve a mug of the pasta water before draining the pasta. Pour drained pasta over pesto. Add a tablespoon of the pasta water. Mix. If it's too dry add more pasta water and mix again. Grate parmesan cheese on top. Eat right away.
3. AS A TOPPING FOR CHICKEN, LAMB, OR STEAK
4. ROOT VEGETABLE TART WITH CHUNKY PESTO
Many root vegetables have different cooking times. Don't worry about this. It's actually nice to have different textures in this tart. Use an 8, 9, or 10 inch tart pan. This tart would also be really good on puff pastry (easier too if store bought). My great chef friend Michael just let me know that the skin on late season delicata squash can be very tough -- use at your own risk or peel it to be safe. September/October/November delicata should be fine with the skin on.
-1 1/2 cups chunky pesto
-any combination of root vegetables including: delicata squash (skin on), carrots, turnips, parsnips, onions, spring onions, shallots -- (about 4 cups vegetables total)
-10 cloves garlic
-4 tablespoons olive oil
-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
-2 springs thyme
-1 sprig rosemary
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Peel the vegetables (unless it's delicata squash). Chop up vegetables into chunks that are approximately the same size (about the size of a quarter). Peel and slice the onions or shallots if using them. Leave the garlic unpeeled. Toss everything together on a sheet pan. Drizzle over some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add herbs and season generously with salt and pepper. Toss again until all vegetables are coated. Roast in the oven until vegetables are just getting tender but not mushy. Toss them around every 15 minutes or so. It's okay for them to caramelize and get crispy, maybe even the tips will burn a bit. This will take 30-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, roll out pastry dough, press into a 9 inch tart pan. Trim or press off edges. Refrigerate.
Once the vegetables are out of the oven, turn it down to 350°F. When oven temperature has dropped, bake tart shell until it just starts to smell nutty and buttery (about 10-12 minutes). Remove from oven. Leave oven on. If your children are assembling the tart let it cool for a few minutes (otherwise go right ahead with the hot shell). Spread pesto evenly all over the bottom of the shell. Place partially roasted vegetables on top of the pesto. Put all the roasted garlic cloves in a pile in the center. Grate lots of parmesan all over the top of the tart. Bake for 30 minutes or so until the cheese and the tart shell are nicely browned.