Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hazelnut Pesto

Most of my encounters with hazelnuts have involved either bowls of un-shelled nuts served during the holidays only to become an overlooked centerpiece... or chocolate. Nutella has long been a guilty pleasure. And the confection, Ferrero Rocher, frequently made holiday appearances. Rarely, if ever, have I tried hazelnuts in an entree.

This recipe felt like a simple enough way to incorporate these nuts into a more hearty role.

adapted from 1001 Recipes edited by Martha Day

serves 4
The Ingredients:
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 oz fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
scant 1 cup soft cheese
8 oz pasta (tagliatelle recommended)
ground black pepper

The Process:
Place the garlic, basil, hazelnuts and cheese in food processor or blender and process to a thick paste.

Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until until al dente. Drain well.

Spoon the sauce into the hot pasta, tossing until melted. Sprinkle with pepper and serve immediately.

My Modification:
I added about 1 Tbsp of oil while blending the pesto to smooth the consistency. My blender was not a fan of this paste...I may have had better luck using a food processor. A scant 1/2 tsp of salt was also added to enhance the other flavors.

The Review:
I don't think this pesto will permanently replace the traditional version in my recipe book, but it was worth the try. The hazelnut flavor was incredibly subtle...provided more of an after thought than a featured flavor. Once the pasta cooled to about room temperature, the nutty flavor became more pronounced. The garlic was biting and cut through everything else with an aggressive assault. The cheese added a nice, melted texture. But all in all the pesto was a bit dry.

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