Its Pesto Time!
As September rolls around with the last hot days of summer, its all about selecting the perfect day to harvest basil before it becomes bitter and the flowering has its day. If you are like me, that can only mean one thing: Pesto.
Pesto – that totally intense and wonderful concoction of basil, parmesan, garlic and pine nuts. So quintissentially Mediterranean. A hot, languid summer day in a jar to guide us through the long dark winter.
I don’t think I have anything new to add to the basic pesto recipe. Mine is long derived from a now old Italian vegetarian cookbook: The Romagnoli’s Italian Vegetarian Cookbook – all ingredients are measured in imperial volume measures (I’m sure at the insistence of the English publisher). But what I do have to offer here is a really useful calculator to sort out all of the rest of the ingredients based on the weight of the basil leaves.
The leaves after all are the big unknown. You harvest – or buy – whatever amount of basil. And based on that, you figure out whatever garlic, pine nuts, parmesan, romano, and oil is needed. That last part is what this little google sheet does. I put it together at the start of the summer, and have been using and testing it each time I would go and thin out my basil crop. It is set up so that the different ingredients are added in in the order they should be – at least the way I like them to be.
I should note that it’s all done by weight. This means you need a scale. It also means that your end product will be the same each time. Should you wish to use this sheet to work in your own formula, I would suggest downloading it as an excel file, and then going into the formula cells and playing with the constants, and/or adding your own favorite ingredients.
Finally, chances are, you will be putting this on some homemade pasta. There’s a formula for that too! This one is so ridiculously easy….. one egg per person eating. Weigh the eggs. Divide the weight of the eggs by .6 to yield the weight of flour to use. For example – lets say 4 eggs weigh in at 210g. 210 / .6 = 350g of flour. If you go with something like spinach, treat it as part of the liquid weight. You should get a pasta that is so perfectly hydrated, it will go through your roller without needing to add any extra flour or water, and leave you with a clean counter too.
Happy Pesto and Pasta!