Is this technically even a pesto? Or just a texture similar to pesto involving pureed nuts, herbs, garlic and veggies. I don’t know. It seems in essence pesto generally refers to basil, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil, but has been expanded to include about a billion other things to create gourmet accouterments. This recipe includes nearly all of my favorite ingredients lovingly crushed together in a food processor. It’s remarkably low fat and only contains “good fats” from the artichokes and almond slivers. Well – there’s the Parmesan too. I forgot about the fat from the cheese. Woops – guess it’s not low fat at all. Well at least it’s lighter than it could be? In essence, this pesto is a cousin to the warm Parmesan and artichoke dip my family makes containing a truly sinful amount of mayonnaise. It’s delicious, but definitely not an every day habit – unless you’re looking for a heart attack in dip form.
I originally served this tossed with gemelli pasta and shredded chicken. To be honest, I’m not really a huge pasta fan. Or rice. Or other side grains. I started wondering halfway through my meal why in the heck I had served it this way. Because I really would have rather had this pesto lovingly served on the side of beautiful roast bone in chicken breasts, with a vegetable for a side, that could share the dipping glory with the bites of chicken breast. Then I remembered. I am very used to preparing straight to the table meals, cooked to order so to speak. But every so often the occasion arises where I need to prepare a dish well in advance. Pasta dishes are good for this sort of thing. You could totally serve this cold. Or warm it just before serving, and it would still be good – in fact probably better if the pasta had time to rest in the pesto and let the flavors lovingly meld together. So if it’s your turn to host your book club, make this the day before and pull it out right before the guests arrive. Or if your friend has a baby, and it’s your night to bring dinner – try this out, because it’s wildly difficult to make and deliver fresh roasted chicken breasts, I know, I’ve tried it. Or any other occasion falling into that Make and Store Category that remains so empty on my side bar.
But the way I advise eating it – to really get the flavor kick – is the way pictured in the top photo. I made the crostini from half a loaf of leftover baguette, which I revived with a bit of water in a paper bag in the microwave for 20 seconds. Unless you’ve recently broken it off with your vampire love interest and you’re trying every angle to keep him away, don’t rub the bread with garlic the way I usually do, just generously lather it with olive oil. The garlic really has a way of becoming more pronounced when the pesto comes out of the fridge on the second day. This would also be delicious on cucumber slices or veggie sticks.
1 can artichoke hearts in water, rinsed and drained
3 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
4 large cloves garlic
1 c. grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
4 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 c. slivered blanched almonds
1 tsp kosher salt
8 turns fresh ground pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
Combine all ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor. Pulse to chop, then turn food processor to on/medium, then slowly drizzle in olive oil from top to emulsify. Continue to run food processor until you like the texture.