Marjoram Pesto

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You know how i feel about herbs this time of year in the northeast?

Get ’em while they’re hot! In the quest to clean up the garden, herbs are high on my list. But never-you-fear if you don’t yet have a garden to clean up because at farmer’s markets right about now, the size of the bunches grow in direct opposition to the dwindling prices.

And IMO there’s hardly a better way to preserve the intense taste of herbs than in pestos. This is one of my absolute favorites, and it’s been said that once you try marjoram pesto, basil pesto starts to look like it’s frumpy, ordinary cousin. (well i said it, didn’t i?)

Marjoram pesto
Adapted from vegetarian suppers by deborah madison
1/2 cup marjoram leaves
1 cup finely chopped parsley
3 tablespoons capers, rinsed & soaked in water for 5 minutes, rinsed again
1 small slice country bread, crust removed
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts
1 large clove garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

yield: for use with 1 lb pasta

1. tear the bread slice up in chunks and place in a bowl, soak with 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar. let soak for 5 minutes.

2. place all ingredients except olive oil in a large bowl of a food processor, pulse to combine. continue to pulse until a dry paste forms, then run on low while drizzling oil in. stop processing immediately after oil dispenses.

3. pack in freezer proof containers with 1/4 inch headspace. freezes well for at least 3 months.

see how simple?

This pesto is a pasta staple around my place, so i freeze it in containers large enough for 1/2 lb of pasta. it is so intensely flavored that no cheese is required, but you can certainly grate a bit of cheese over your finished dish. i would recommend a milder pecorino as the big parm may just push it over the edge of too much umami(can we ever have too much?)

You can certainly freeze this in ice cube trays for 24 hours, then pop them into freezer bags. a cube or two added to a vegetable or bean soup would most certainly intensify it.

I really can’t leave you without my pasta/pesto making tips: salt the pasta water well just before putting the pasta in. it should taste like a well-salted broth. and for pesto, always make sure to take a cup or so of the pasta water out of the pot before draining the pasta. please, please, please cook it al dente, and never rinse it in cold water. put the pasta back in the warm pot, add the pesto and just a bit of the water, to desired consistency. serve in warm bowls with freshly ground pepper.

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