Friday, 26 August 2016

"Mexican" Pesto

Or at least pesto adapted to use some typical Mexican ingredients. If your pumpkin seeds are raw, it would be a good idea to toast them in a dry skillet first. You can also tweak the proportions of cilantro and basil according to which you would prefer to be predominant.

We had ours with pasta but you can use this wherever you would use classic Basil Pesto.  Like that recipe, this can be frozen, and cheese added once it is thawed. If you live in a place where you can find Mexican or at least Central American style cheeses, so much the better. The feta worked quite well however.

4 to 6 servings
20 minutes prep time

Make the Pesto:
2 to 6 cloves of garlic
1 Jalapeño chile  (see note)
1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
1 cup lightly packed basil leaves
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/4 cup sunflower or olive oil

Peel and cut the garlic cloves in half, and put them in the bowl of a food processor. Wash, core, and roughly chop the Jalapeño. Test it to see how hot it is, and add a bit less than you think you will want. Wash, trim, and pick over the cilantro and basil leaves, and drain them well. Add them, along with the pumpkin seeds and oil. If your pumpkin seeds are unsalted, you may wish to add some, but keep in mind the cheese that will be added later.

Process until everything is very well chopped but still retains some texture. You will need to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times. Add more of the Jalapeño if that seems like a good idea.

This can be used at once, or frozen in an ice cube tray or zip-lock baggie, for future use.

NOTE: Since Jalapeños vary considerably in strength, and people's liking for heat also varies, the amount to use is hard to pin down. Just remember my motto: You can always add more, but once it is in it is in. Also, pickled Jalapeño can be used instead of a fresh one, but it is likely to be much stronger so keep that in mind too.

To Serve with Pasta:
250 grams pasta
2 medium zucchini
1 large onion
1 tablespoon sunflower or olive oil
100 grams (4 ounces) feta cheese
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. When it boils, salt it well and cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.

Meanwhile, wash, trim, and dice the zucchini. Peel and chop the onion. Heat the oil in a large skillet, and cook the vegetables until softened and slightly browned (cooked to your liking).

When the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the pan of vegetables, and mix well. Add the pesto and the crumbled feta and grated Parmesan. Mix again and serve.

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