You guys, my ass is tired, both literally and figuratively.
We’re coming off a streak of weekends where we were either hosting guests or being guests ourselves, and while it’s been a lot of fun, it’s kind of sapped my inspiration for cooking. That’s not to say that we haven’t been cooking of course, but we’ve definitely relied on old favorites rather than new recipes, and I’m hoping that this upcoming weekend I can rectify that and spend some quality time with my cookbook collection. During this same time I’ve had some pretty intense workouts (this is what happens when you watch the kickass women in the Crossfit regionals) so there have been several days where I tend to walk like Frankenstein’s monster after getting out of my car or a chair.
The remedy to the latter problem is fairly easy: take it down a few notches for a little bit in the gym and embrace the few extra rest days that will happen due to some travel and a few mid-week engagements. As for the former, I made myself sit down and find a few new-to-me recipes on Sunday morning to not only get back into my kitchen groove, but also in posting here more regularly again, and on that score I definitely succeeded because the dish I made for Sunday supper was dynamite.
Prior to that, though, one of the most exciting things I’ve made during this time was a twist on a Sicilian pesto I first found by Mario Batali by way of Serious Eats; unlike pesto Trapanese it’s based more on the more traditional pesto Gevonese, but it gets a kick thanks to some mint, serrano peppers, and dried red pepper. After finding some garlic scapes at the market near my office I decided to make it very seasonal by using a few of those in lieu of regular garlic cloves, and subbed in pistachios for the almonds because we had them and the pistachio is still a very Sicilian ingredient.
I made this years ago once when Michael’s parents came to visit us and it came out really well that time, and I don’t know what took me so long to revisit it. Prompted by a little panic over not having done meal prep this past week because my schedule was a little off, this came about because I only needed a few ingredients and everything would be readily available at the aforementioned market, and I could pull together the sauce while the grilled chicken was cooking away on the Griddler. I was so pleased with the results that I immediately resolved to make pizza this past weekend so I would have an excuse to make another batch of it and use the rest to coat chicken for lunches that week, and it might have been one of our best pies ever with just some burrata and shallots scattered on top.
Spicy Sicilian Pesto
Adapted from Mario Batali via Serious Eats
Makes 1 1/2 cups pesto
2 cups basil leaves, well washed
1 cup mint leaves, stems removed
1 dried hot chile, crushed
3 garlic scapes or cloves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup pistachios, roasted, salted, and toasted
2 serrano peppers, seeded and deveined to your taste (leave the seeds in for an extra kick)
Kosher salt to taste
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pecorino Romano, grated
Combine the first seven ingredients into a tall, narrow container and add a little of the olive oil to help get the pesto going. Using an immersion blender, start whizzing away and keep streaming in olive oil until you have the consistency that you like. Season with extra salt if needed, and then stir in the cheese before re-seasoning, if necessary. Spread on pizza, bread, grilled chicken, pasta, or if you have no shame, eat it with a spoon.