This past Friday marked the end of finals week and the beginning of a long, luxurious winter break. The feeling of relief was so deliciously surreal that I spent most of the morning rolling around in bed refusing to get up. My room looked nothing short of a hurricane disaster; clothes flung all over the place, papers strewn everywhere but my desk, my poor, over-worked french press soaking in the sink – all remnants of a hectic quarter gone by.
As I stood, yawning, I couldn’t help but realize how fast time has flown by since I started grad school. In less than twenty-five days, we’ll be ringing in the new year and, in three months, I’ll be wrapping things up here, heading to who knows where, and doing who knows what. Maybe I’ll be in school, maybe I’ll be looking for jobs, maybe I’ll drop everything and travel the world. But, I’ll save those thoughts for another day.
Now faced with an abundance of free time, I welcomed the opportunity to try an idea that’s been on my mind since I discovered a package of Brazil nuts in my kitchen: to make pesto using Brazil nuts instead of pine nuts. That and I was craving pesto…on a mozzarella tomato panini, on grilled chicken, linguine, three cheese tortellini.. just a small craving..no big deal.
The truth is, I’m not crazy about Brazil nuts. I bought them because I’ve never had them before and the name made them sound all too exotic. Alas they were a bit too dry and bland for my taste, so I wanted to reinvent these suckers into something more delectable. The results? Surprisingly amazing! I personally couldn’t tell the difference using Brazil nuts. The consistency and texture of the pesto itself is comparable to that of a pine nut pesto. It’s one beguiling imposter. And I’m ok with that.
Here’s what you’ll need:
¼ cup raw Brazil nuts
1 large garlic clove
1 ½ cups basil leaves
½ cup olive oil
zest of 1 lemon
5 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. salt
Step 1. Rough chop the Brazil nuts and add to the food processor.
Step 2. Mince the garlic and add with the Brazil nuts. Pulse the mixture once or twice.
Step 3. Wash the basil leaves, shake off the water, rough chop, and add to the food processor and pulse twice, using a spatula to bring ingredients from the upper sides. Scrape the ingredients from the upper sides closer to the mixture. Do the happy dance because pesto makes the world go ’round.
Step 4. Add the salt, lemon zest and lemon juice. Next, slowly drizzle in the olive oil while running the food processor until all the oil is evenly infused. Use the spatula to help bring ingredients together. Normally, pesto doesn’t call for this much lemon but I prefer a bit more citrus to lighten up the olive oil.
Step 5. Remove the pesto from the food processor and mix in the Parmesan cheese until evenly combined. Taste, and add more salt and lemon juice if desired. You deserve it. Mmm chlorophyll. Did I just say that?
Step 6. Pair the pesto. Today, I had chicken in the fridge so I cubed one chicken breast and pan fried them until golden-brown and cooked through. While they cooked, I seasoned with salt and pepper.
Step 7. To the chicken, I added 1 cup of cooked linguine pasta and mixed in 2-3 tablespoons of pesto sauce. A little bit goes a long way here, folks. You won’t need a heaping amount for your pasta, so add the pesto a little at a time to avoid over-saucing. And, if you’re like me, add an extra squeeze of lemon on top. Voila!
How can you say no to a face like this? Slurrp.