What got me started on this whole chadon beni pesto recipe was the idea of fusing Italian and Trini cooking and documenting the interesting nuances I could come up with. Many posts ago I introduced you all to Risi Bisi, a rice dish with deep Italian roots. Of course, it was an excellent addition to my cooking repertoire and was in heavy rotation for a while at home.
My Chadon Beni Pesto Experiment
Now it’s time for me to experiment with another Italian recipe. For this experiment I chose Basil Pesto. Basil pesto isn’t something most Trinidadians will buy when they’re shopping, since it is considered more of a gourmet food item and also it is expensive. What I also discovered though is that basil, is used mostly for seasoning meat and not much else unless you’re a chef or very skilled cook and know how to use the herb when cooking.
But before I go into my little experience with basil pesto I believe we should have a point of reference and for this we will have to dig a bit into history…..
A Little Pesto History
The pesto dish, now known as a specialty from Genoa, was adopted by the Ligurians, around Genoa, from the ancient Romans. The word “Pesto” derives from the word pestare, an Italian word that means to pound or to crush. The sauce it refers to is just that, made with crushed garlic, basil, pine nuts, olive oil, Parmesan cheese and a cheese made from sheep’s milk. traditionally, the basil and garlic were ground using a marble mortar and wooden pestle.
Today, the pesto sauce has a versatile use in cooking. It can be served as a sauce for pasta and stews, a flavour for soups, a topping for pizza, and it can be incorporated into sauces for meats. Pesto can last up to 1 week in the refrigerator. If you wish to freeze the pesto, you should leave out the cheese and add it just before serving it.
Getting Acquainted with Pesto
I am a food and cooking experimenter to heart and my approach to this was almost like a lab experiment. First I had to get my trini tongue accustomed to the taste of Basil Pesto since this was ground breaking, at least for me. So, off I went to the supermarket to buy a bottle of Barilla Basil Pesto.
I wasn’t really surprised at the price because this damn thing tasted awesome; it was really worth the price. Man, I was really missing out on this! In the following weeks I quickly developed an acquired taste for it and soon I was going at it, at every turn I made by the fridge. I even adopted it into my trini range of flavours and tastes and was having it with bake, in sandwiches and even introduced Mr Pesto to Mr Crix ….* Crix and Basil Pesto? That is the bomb!!* lol
Time for Chadon Beni Pesto
Fast forwarding to present day, with my trini tongue accustomed to the taste of pesto, I was ready to make my Chadon Beni Pesto recipe and it was time for action. As you would see, I stuck very closely to the original pesto recipe but added my trini twist by using our favourite trini herb Chadon Beni.
I did not have pine nuts like the original recipe would have used, so I substituted walnuts and almond nuts instead. If you have access to pine nuts by all means go ahead and use it. Also you must use Parmesan cheese; cheddar cheese just won’t do. If you have access to Fiore Sardo then of course please use it and then send me a piece. lol!! I would love to us it on my next chadon beni pesto adventure. lol!!
So are you ready? Here’s Chadon Beni Pesto; a flavourlicious marriage between Italian and Trinidadian cooking influences. Enjoy
Chadon Beni Pesto Recipe
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup almonds
6 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
60 leaves chadon beni
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 scotch bonnet pepper
Chop the walnuts and almonds finely.
Wash the chadon beni leaves and place in a blender or food processor.
Add the nuts, cheese, garlic, salt and pepper.
Blend the ingredients while drizzling the olive oil to create a smooth consistency.
Serve immediately or refrigerate. Yields 2 cups
Here we have a lovely match of Crix and Chadon Beni Pesto.
Just couldn’t resist. Want some?
Well, I thoroughly enjoyed doing this chadon beni pesto recipe and had a ball eating this with some CRIX; see you soon!