Tag Archives: pignoli nuts

Pesto #3: Spinach and Pine Nut Pesto

Spinach and pine nut pesto is almost the same as the basil pesto. It looks the same and tastes just as good. Basil can be expensive especially if you’re using a large quantity of it. But with the wonderful bags of washed, pretrimmed spinach making a spinach pesto is a snap. Using the bags saves so much time as well, you don’t have to keep cleaning it over and over to get all the dirt out of it. And there are sales almost all the time for the bags of spinach. Many of them are buy 1 get 1 free! So this is a more economical way to make a great pesto! This pesto is great with grilled chicken, pasta, anything!

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups (tightly packed) baby spinach leaves (about 2 ounces)

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

1-2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (from about 1 lemon)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about ½ lemon)

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon salt, more to taste

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more to taste


DIRECTIONS:

1. In a food processor, combine the spinach, pine nuts, lemon zest, and lemon juice. With the machine running, gradually add the oil, blending until it is creamy.

2. Transfer the pesto to a medium bowl. Stir in the cheese, salt and pepper. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate.

Makes 1 cup. The pesto can be made 2 days ahead of time.

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Pesto #1: Basil Pesto

Basil pesto is the most basic and traditional pesto. It is what most people think of when you mention pesto. The basil-based pesto was invented in Genoa, Italy. It is also sometimes called a Genovese sauce. It should be a beautiful bright green and the aroma is almost intoxicating. Just remember when adding the oil, add it slowly. This is so that the sauce is fully emulsified, meaning all the ingredients blend together in a thick, uniform consistency. There are also many types of basil out there in the markets today so be adventurous and try a few of them for their different flavors! And remember you will be using quite a bit in the recipe so if it’s on sale all the better!

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves

¼ cup toasted pine nuts (pignoli)*

1-2 cloves garlic

½ teaspoon salt, plus a little more to taste

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus a little more to taste

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


DIRECTIONS:

1. In a food processor or blender, pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon of the black pepper until finely chopped.

2. With the processor or blender still running, gradually add enough oil to form a smooth and thick consistency. Transfer the pesto to a medium bowl and stir in the cheese. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate.

Makes about 1 cup. The pesto can be made up to 2 days ahead.

*To toast pine nuts for pesto, bake them on a cookie sheet at 400ºF for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Just keep an eye on them because they can burn very quickly!

**TIP** If using the pesto as a pasta sauce it must be the right consistency. So when your pasta is just about ready you can add a little bit of the pasta cooking liquid to the pest to get it a little thinner so it will coat the pasta. Just be careful you don’t add too much and make it a pesto soup!

Pignoli Cookies (Biscotti di Pinoli)

Of all the Italian cookies this is by far one of my favorites. It is my Dad’s favorite too. Anybody who’s bought these at the Italian bakery knows how expensive they can be!  But the best thing is that you can make them yourself for a fraction of the cost and it’s easy! The most expensive ingredient is of course, pignoli nuts. But keep an eye open when you’re in the grocery store, Walmart, warehouse club of choice, even the dollar stores! You can usually find a package of pignoli nuts for a reasonable price. I always buy as much as I can when I find them on sale too, because you can store them in the freezer or refrigerator to keep them fresh. Plus they’re always good in salads or with other dishes as well! These cookies are so moist and yummy you can’t eat just one!

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup sugar

½ cup confectioners’ sugar

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1/8 cup teaspoon salt

1 8-ounce can/tube almond paste

2 egg whites, slightly beaten

2 cups pignoli nuts (Pine nuts)

Confectioners’ sugar


DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 300ºF. Lightly grease 2 large cookie sheets. Sift sugars with flour and salt, set aside.

2. In medium bowl, break up almond paste with wooden spoon. Add egg whites and beat until well-blended and fairly smooth. Stir in flour mixture until well blended.

3. Take a spoonful of the dough and dip it into a bowl of pine nuts. Slide the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet 2 inches apart.

4. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden. Remove cookies to rack to cool. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

Makes about 30 tasty and delicious cookies. Can be stored in an airtight container or in the freezer up to a month. (Like there would be any left over!!)

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