Pesto Control – Grilled Chicken Pesto Pasta

chicken pesto pasta
One of the food philosophies to which I always try to adhere is that I should taste everything at least once. I never have to eat it ever again if I don’t like it, but I’ll never know until I try it. Of course, there are certain things I won’t eat based on principle, but that doesn’t count. I don’t care if fois gras tastes infinitely better than a long, luscious night with my lover, I just can’t eat it. It actually has nothing to do with the whole ethical debate about fois gras, it’s just that it’s liver. I can’t eat any other organs for that matter.

But, except for the based-on-principle clause, I just might have to make an amendment to my food-stitution; taste everything twice.

The first time I ever tasted pesto, the green kind with basil and pine nuts, I absolutely hated it. I wasn’t allergic to it, I didn’t get sick from it (there are some things I just can’t eat because I threw it up when I was little). There was no apparent reason other than the taste: the strong chemically vegetable smell, the grainy texture, and the overly oiliness. I don’t like basil. And I hate pesto.

So why on earth would I make pesto?!?!

Only out of necessity. Beaucoup bucks had gone toward a pile of herbs for a dinner party, and just my fockin’ luck, it was bunches and bunches of basil that was leftover. *gag* I could feel my money rotting away with each wilting, blackening leaf. I had to make something, anything to save myself the burn. Whatever it would be, I could lock it up in the freezer until I have another dinner party. Someone at some point would eat it, but not me.

Not wasting money by spending more money is stupid, so since I already had pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and olive oil, the basil became a pesto. Out of necessity I would make something I hate to eat.

I started pluck pluck plucking those basil leaves off the stem with a let’s-get-this-over-with-as-fast-as-possible attitude. But then something happened. I don’t know what came over me, but as I pulled the leaves, the faint smell of basil made me slow down. I stuck my face into the next bunch and inhaled. Suddenly, what used to make me subtly recoil almost made me *sigh*. Oh my god. Stop! I whipped myself out of the momentary lapse into the ludicrous. “Sarah, you hate basil,” and I dropped the last leaf into the food processor. Take that, Basil! See if you try and seduce me again!

I had finally learned my lesson about cooking with nuts, and toasted the pine nuts, this time without burning them. I added them to the basil, screaming hot right out of the pan, still with their toasty pine nutty smell since in the air. And then chopped garlic.

And then the parmesan.

And then I pulsed.

At first it was slow as the basil tried to find its groove – stopping to give the large leaves a push back down off the sides. Start. *argh* Stop. *frustrated* Start. Stop. It was time for some help to get the whole thing slippery slick – just the softest stream of golden green olive oil to help, and with each pulsing purr of the food processor, I could see the green whipping by. The pesto started getting smoother, creamier. We had finally found our rhythm and it was just one long dizzying spin. A girl and the green and the smell of basil and garlic erupting from the food processor against the still lingering smell of toasted pine nuts, until… Stop! Please! Some strange high had overtaken my senses and I realized that I was eager. There was an anxious waiting as I had been pulsing through the basil. I had to taste it!

Good gracious.

Well, I don’t food process and tell, but all I will say is that the pesto never made it into the freezer.

So, I have a new like. Not love – I mean, this was only our first spin. But I think I really like pesto. Great. Sometimes ordering in restaurants is easy when there are lots of things you don’t like because that narrows down the choices. Now I am adding to option overload. Just great. I never should have given that pesto a second chance.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Clare Eats June 28, 2005 at 1:00 am

I hate store bought pesto(I think that tastes like chemicals) but love handmade …

Perhaps that was the reason for the previous dislike?

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2 Eve June 28, 2005 at 1:21 am

pesto is the greatest thing EVER!

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3 Kirk June 28, 2005 at 2:40 am

Clare is right, most store bought pesto is pretty heinous stuff….
I love the story – sort of “love at second sight…” LOL

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4 sarah June 28, 2005 at 3:27 am

well, i have to say, i am betting that it was store bought or frozen with preservatives that first time i had it, because that and this weekend’s taste worlds apart.

now, i can’t say i love it yet. i need to be more careful about how swiftly i give my heart away, lest i get a reputation for being easy – lol!

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5 immaeatchu June 28, 2005 at 5:42 am

i was never really into pesto until i made it at home. it is so much better than any restaurant or market one! im glad you gave basil another chance. yummy basil~

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6 Ruth Daniels June 28, 2005 at 12:47 pm

I loved your story. It’s wonderful!!! Actually pesto has been one of my favorite things since I discovered it years ago. I put it in scrambled eggs, use it as a base for pizza, marinades,and rubs, add a dollop to salad dressings,….I could go on forever.

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7 deb November 5, 2007 at 1:19 pm

the first time i tasted pesto during a party, i really didn’t appreciate it for the reason that i’m used to the ordinary, traditional red spaghetti and there’s a lot of other dishes to try on…but when a friend invited me for a pesto lunch in one of davao’s pasta restaurant …my god!!!! i loved it!!! i even got addicted to eating pesto!!!! aside from the fact that it’s not fattening, it really tastes so good! specially if you put more olive oil…DELICIOUS! WORTH TRYING IT AGAIN!

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8 Amish log furniture May 31, 2010 at 6:05 am

wow!!!good recipes..i think i can cook this for my mum besday..thanks

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