3.5 oz toasted hazelnuts
2 oz basil
2oz kale (or spinach)
1 c grapeseed or olive oil
2 c water
1.5 oz asiago cheese
3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
juice from 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
(I normally do 7 cracks of
both from my mills)
Other items you'll need:
Clean dry towel
Pot of water (about a quart)
Preheat oven to 350.
Pesto orininated in Genoa, in the Liguria region of northern Italy. It's an amazing sauce that pairs well with pasta, fish or chicken. It can also be used as a spread to go on sandwiches or pizza. Pesto is typically made from pinenuts, but I have recently fallen in love with hazelnut pesto. In America, most of our hazelnuts come from Oregon or Washington. We have an amazing farm just outside of Corvallis, Hazelnut Hill. Amazing, fresh hazelnuts right at our fingertips! Meridian is also a great farm, it's just a little further out of town. If you just want a little batch though I suggest heading over to the co-op or Market of Choice and check out the bulk sections.
What you don't want is a batch of rancid hazelnuts. Because of the higher oil content hazelnuts have the tendency to go bad a little quicker than other nuts. Always check before adding them to your sauce. You wouldn't want to ruin the whole batch of pesto just because a few bad nuts.
First thing I like to do is toast the hazelnuts, toasting the nuts will bring out the natural oils and help with peeling the skin off of the nuts. Putting the nuts in first allows you to prepare the rest of the food while they are in the oven.
Put nuts on a sheet pan and put into the oven. Set the timer for 10 minutes.
Place hot hazelnuts in clean towel, and fold it on top of them. Rub the hazelnuts between your hands, the towel helps remove the skin, and protects your hands from getting burned. Don't worry about getting all of the skin off.
Remove basil and kale from ice bath and squeeze until relatively dry, place in the measuring cup that comes with the blender. Add the water, garlic, cheese and oil and the hazelnuts on top. Make sure the nuts aren't too hot at this point, you don't want them melting the cheese. Mix with the hand blender until smooth.
Gather together your mise en place. Mise en place (pronounced meez en plas) is a French phrase which means " putting in place". What this basically means is get all of your measured out ingredients and put them in front of you. This way, you'll be less likely to forget something.
Prepare kale by cutting it into smaller pieces. We're going to blanch and shock the basil and kale. Blanching and shocking helps preserve the bright green color. If you don't blanch it, the basil will turn brown. Bring a pot of water with a little salt to a boil and throw the kale in once your timer for the hazelnuts has reached 5 minutes. Wait 3 minutes then throw in your basil. The basil doesn't take as long as the kale and you don't want to overcook it.
When your timer goes off drain the kale and basil and throw into an ice bath (water with ice).
Remove your hazelnuts from the oven.
Portion sauce out in ice cube trays for future dinners. I personally use 1 cube per cup of (cooked) pasta, but it's really all a matter of taste. Enjoy!