Basil Pecan Pesto

I made pesto today. Basil Pecan Pesto to be more precise. I decided to make pesto, because I still have basil in the garden that looks good and I want to use it before a frost comes and takes it away for another year. Not that I need to worry about a frost quite yet here in Texas. We don't typically see the first frost until mid-November. However, last night's temperatures were dipping low enough that I figured I'd better get on it.

I usually make pesto in a food processor, but a while ago I watched a video in which Jamie Oliver made it in a mortar and pestle. Pesto is after all a form of the word pestare, which in Italian means to pound or crush. To be considered true pesto it should be made in a mortar and pestle, because this is how it was traditionally made. So, not one to argue with tradition I decided to have a go at it tradizionalmente. Ok anyone who knows me knows that I do argue with some tradition, and I did leave out the cheese* and swap out pecans for pine nuts.

I followed Signor Lebovitz's instructions, but used the Basil Pecan Pesto recipe I found on Epicurious. I wanted to switch it up a bit and I had some pecans on hand that I needed to use up.

The final result is definitely not as uniform as compared to using a food processor. It's a bit thicker and almost like a chutney. I actually like it more, because it has a bit of a bite versus being a creamy sauce like most food processor pestos. That's not to say that I've sworn off the food processor for making pesto. Convenience wins out most times. But, for those moments when I have a bit more time on my hands, I think I'll stick with tradition.

*I left out the cheese, because I try to avoid dairy as much as possible. I'll save the why for another post. I also didn't have any Parmesan on hand, but I probably would have left it out. Probably.


Sunday Ritual: Olive Oil Maple Granola

I've been racking my brain trying to figure out how to get this blog going after my first post months ago. My first thought was to write about what you might find on this blog, but then realized I don't even know what you'll find on this blog. Food definitely, but in what form? I don't quite know yet. Probably some recipes, maybe some restaurants reviews, and pictures. Probably. Maybe? 

So, instead of trying to make a big splash I thought I'd start by dipping my toes in first. I might jump in from there, or just slowly test the waters and wade in. 

So, what's up first? How about something simple that I find calming and peaceful every Sunday. Making granola.

I started making my own granola a few years ago when I got married. My husband was used to eating homemade granola for breakfast, so I wanted to continue that and make it a part of our new life together. We enjoyed that granola for a while, because it was/is tasty and was familiar. But, I always found one thing lacking. Texture. I like my granola crunchy and crisp, but this granola didn't have that. At first I tried tweaking the recipe, leaving it in the oven longer, but nothing seemed to work. I finally realized that it was never going to be crunchy unless I burned the hell out of it. Of course, then I'd have a whole new issue on my hands. Burnt granola. So, I started looking for recipes.

I came across tons on the internet and in cookbooks and finally settled on Ellie Krieger's Nutty Granola recipe. It had the right crunch and it wasn't too sweet, which was a hiccup I was experiencing with other granolas. I made that granola for a while, but recently got lured away by Melissa Clark's Olive Oil Granola with Dried Apricots and Pistachios. I can't remember if I first came across it online, or in her book In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite, but the use of olive oil was intriguing enough to toss out my old recipe. At least for a week I thought. 

Well, it's been longer than a week and I keep coming back to my variation of it. To be honest I never tried the actual recipe. The use of two sweeteners just seemed a bit too rich for me. I don't like my granola overly sweet. So, I've tweaked it a bit by leaving out one sweetener and the dried fruit. I've also swapped out and added some nuts. The final result is below. 

I hope you'll enjoy it. And, who knows. Maybe it'll become part of your Sunday ritual.

Olive Oil Maple Granola
adapted from A Good Appetite

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup raw pecans 
1 cup of sliced almonds
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled
1 cup coconut chips
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, pecans, sliced almonds, pumpkin seeds, coconut chips. Toss to combine.
2. Add maple syrup, olive oil, salt, cinnamon and cardamom to oat mixture. Stir to combine making sure everything is well coated.
3. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes. Stir every 15 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.
4. Take granola out of oven and let it cool before transferring to a storage container. It should last at least a week in an air tight storage container. (I keep mine in the fridge, which I think makes it last longer. Not that it every last longer than a week in our house.)