I'm convinced I need a food processor. Ultimately, there is truth to this because food processors are way more useful than blenders, but the later seems to be the more common applicance in student kitchens. I'm not convinced however that it is the more useful of the two. Every time I try and blend something, the blades just whir and fizzle around while my heap of basil or chickpeas stays in the same place. That's cause you need liquid to help blenders prove their utility and worth in the kitchen. The problem is that we don't always want to blend or purée; sometimes we need to just chop.
I had this huge, lush bunch of basil left over in the fridge that I bought from a man in a thick plaid shirt one windy morning at the market for the tomato soup Leigh and I made together last weekend. I am notorious for worrying constantly about wasting food, and for five days I told myself, every time I opened the fridge, good lord Jude do something with the basil! The dismayed response was, But I don't have a food processor! (Therefore making pesto would surely be impossible). And to further increase my level of anxiety, there was left over cilantro: immediate action was imperative.
So, after work on Wednesday I went and spent too much money on pine nuts (these things seem to happen when you need ingredients NOW), and got right down to work. I of course tried to use the Osterizer, but my three cups of packed basil and two of cilantro just sat there bored and humble. Then I had the innovative idea to use my Shun chef's knife that my parents gave to me for my birthday (so shocked I teared up when I opened the box) to simply chop up these fine herbs. While I toasted 5 tbs of pinenuts, I thunk thunk thunk thunk thunk scraped thunk thunk thunk thunk thunk scraped the basil and cilantro into a fine green purée. Then I whizzed the nuts in the coffee grinder, finely chopped up 2-3 cloves of garlic, squeezed half a lemon and grated 1/4-1/2 C parmesan cheese, adding all the ingredients together into the same bowl as the basil and cilantro. Last, I added enough olive oil (1/2 C) to mellow out the flavours and make a thick mixture. At the end I adjusted the seasoning by adding salt and pepper, and more cheese. Some of you might want more garlic, less salt, more lemon, etc. The great thing about pesto is that it's easy and you can riff on the ingredients, making it your own.
Since we're on the subject, I should add that a good knife is the most important, if not the only kitchen tool you own. Who needs blenders or food processors anyways? Buy a good knife sharpener, (I recommend the Lansky turnbox crock stick which is super compact and very effective) and take the time to sharpen your knives before you put them away (in a very safe place where the blade won't be damaged, ie. not in the drying rack point down or in a drawer with other cutlery or for heaven's sake in the dishwasher) so they'll be ready to use the next time you want to use them. To preserve the sharpness of your blade, don't cut on plates, counter-tops, stove-tops, table-tops or what-have-you. Also buy a cutting board that's big enough so you aren't constantly going off the board with the tip of the knife when you chop. I just bought an Epicurean cutting board today for 25 bucks. They're awesome: they don't keep odors and you can put them in the dishwasher, plus they're environmentally sustainable. I'm so excited to not be cutting anymore on the tiny plastic cutting boards that were here in this apartment when I moved in and stink like onions.
Before I end this epic rambling, I just wanna shout out my never-ending appreciation to my good old inspiration Tommy Douglas, Seattle chef/owner of the Dahlia Lounge, Lola, Etta's Seafood and the Palace Kitchen, among others, for this delicious little pesto recipe that he recommends for his Tuscan bread salad with fresh mozzarella and basil. I put some on a sandwich with avacado and asparagus and I've had the same sandwich, minus the asparagus, plus some cheese for three days since. Can't get enough of it, and there's tons of pesto to spare.
Sharpen your knives! Peace and love to all!