This post is really more about a technique than a recipe. Oh, the recipe is nice, too: a mellow deep-green pesto of spinach and scallions, a little onionier and greenier than the norm. I thought it up as a way to use up leftover scallions or scallion parts, hanging around after recipes that call for only part of a bunch. Sam and I ate our pesto over pasta, with poached eggs–a simple, surprisingly filling summer lunch. It’d also be dandy as a sauce for simply cooked fish, or spread on flatbread or pizza. Just a good, solid, early-summer condiment.
Normally, I make pesto by hand, using the largest knife I have and chopping in handfuls of ingredients at a time. I love making pesto this way, watching the piles of ingredients transform under the blade. But in this case, I had some strong scallions–just cutting them into rough chunks made me tear up. I didn’t relish the idea of chopping and blinking and sniffling for twenty minutes straight. And, in all honesty, I was hungry NOW. I wanted lunch faster than the knife and cutting board would allow.
So I decided to cheat a little, by using the food processor for part of the process. This still isn’t your typical blended pesto–I just used the processor to chop down the solids into a rough mass, about the same as I would with a knife. I tested it for readiness the same way, by pressing a bit of it with my fingers to see if it held together. Then I scooped the finished mess into a bowl and poured over extra virgin olive oil, just like I do with the handmade pesto. The results were damn close to the handmade stuff–I missed a little of the nubbly texture, but it was still leaps and bounds lighter and more interesting than the oily, emulsified pestos that usually come out of processors.
This is a neat trick to know, because it puts really good homemade pesto–the kind you can’t replicate with storebought–within the realm of the 10-minute meal. Plus, keeping the olive oil out of the processor entirely means that it won’t turn bitter from contact with the metal blades (which the extra virgin stuff tends to do). So not only is this a fancier pesto, it’s a better-tasting one too. Not bad for a cheater trick.