7.25.2009

Culinary Disappointment; or The best $100 I ever spent

About three years ago next month, Tom had the opportunity to be a groomsman in the wedding of a good friend. The tux rental came to about $100, which we were happy to spend, though we could have thought of many other places to spend it. After the rehearsal dinner, the wedding party and families were treated to dinner at Vince's by the groom's mother.

Vince's was an Italian place, and we were proffered pizza, pasta, salad, bread sticks: the works. There was one dish, however, that excelled all other dishes. It was a pasta dish with creamy pesto and chicken.

And it was divine.

Maybe it was because I was pregnant {with Rico}, or maybe I was just really hungry, but it was probably the best food {dessert excluded} I had ever had. Whatever the reason, I was blown away. That alone made the tux rental worth every penny.

When I got home, I knew I needed to attempt to recreate it, but I had no idea where to start. I found a recipe for pesto in one of my cookbooks and made a batch.

I was sorely disappointed.

It was okay, but nothing like the dish I remembered. I tossed the rest of it into the freezer and moped.

A couple of months later I was cleaning out the freezer and was ready to chuck the rest of the pesto, when Tom recommended that I try adding it to a white sauce.

Hello, genius plan!

I made a basic white sauce, plopped in a couple cubes of frozen pesto, added some garlic powder, a little more parmesan cheese, and voila! perfection.

Now you too can enjoy the world's tastiest pasta dish, and you don't even have to spend $100.

First, I start by making basic pesto. You can find the recipe on the package of basil, or use this one:

2 c firmly packed basil leaves
3/4 c parmesan cheese (grated, not powder)
1/4 c pine nuts (I use walnuts, because it's what I have on hand, though I've also used pecans)
1/2 c olive oil
3 cloves garlic

Blend all ingredients in blender. This makes about 1 1/4 cups, which I freeze in ice cube trays.

I think I've used a different recipe each time I make it, but they are all similar. Like I said, there is usually a recipe on the package of basil. You can use it as is (with pasta or something,) but I like it better in a creamy sauce.

Then, when I want to use it, I make a basic white sauce:

2 Tbsp butter (or marg.)
2 Tbsp flour (or more, if you like a thicker sauce)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 c milk

Melt the butter in a sauce pan, add the flour, salt and pepper and mix and stir till bubbly, then add milk, mixing till smooth, and cooking over medium. I then add one of the pesto cubes (I usually double this sauce recipe and use two), some parmesan cheese (the real stuff, not powder) and garlic powder to taste. Cook until the sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.

I usually mix the sauce with cooked sliced chicken and pasta and serve immediately, but I've also made it in advance, topped it with mozzarella cheese and baked it to warm it up. I like it better served immediately because it's more saucy. The sauce also tastes great on rice.

1 comment:

Rachael said...

Sounds delicious!