Jazzin’ it up: blue cheese pesto

It seems time passes more and more quickly every year.

Australia is traditionally known for its long summer holiday, and I still remember a time when the summer months were leisurely, humid, and never seemed to end. But this year, we are still working overtime in the week before Christmas and are already lining up meetings in January (haven’t people heard about the Mayan calendar?). When I got home on Friday, I wanted something quick that will be on the dinner table in 20 minutes flat.

20121216181423-630Enter blue cheese pesto.

Home made pesto is always more flavoursome than store bought. But, a bit of blue cheese can make the pesto that much more exciting when the parmesan cheese in our fridge is a bit ‘meh’ (and maybe not actually from Emilia-Romagna….).

Blue cheese, such as gorgonzola dolce, adds a lingering tangy depth of taste, and surprises the diner every time – in a good way of course.

What I love about home made pesto is the freedom to make it as chunky or as smooth as I like. Tonight, I was in the mood for rustic chunkiness, so that spicy basil, creamy pine nuts, and crumbly parmesan (and blue) cheese visibly cling to each stand of spaghetti. As a result, a simple plate of carbs can become an elegant dinner.

I wonder if Italian mamas everywhere will be horrified at the idea of adding blue cheese to this classic? If so, sorry Italian mamas, this is really quite tasty stuff.

Blue cheese pesto

The general proportions in the recipe came from many recipes including this one at taste.com.au. Do play around with the proportions until you find a mixture that works for you, and that works for the ingredients at hand.

Ingredients

45g pine nuts, lightly toasted (for less than 5 minutes or until very lightly brown)
1 1/2 cups basil leaves, stems removed
1 small garlic cloves
50g shredded parmesan
5-10g blue cheese, depending on if you are using a pungent or mild blue cheese (I used about 10g of mild gorgonzola dolce this time)
Up to 5 tbs olive oil

Method

1. Place pine nuts, basil, garlic and parmesan in the bowl of a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Gradually add olive oil and process just until combined.

Or, Crush each of the ingredients in a mortar and pestle, until you get the desired texture. Add olive oil and combine. 

2. Cut blue cheese into small cubes, and mash into the pesto with a spoon.

Note: Reserve a few spoonfuls of pasta cooking liquid, and use it to ‘loosen’ up the pesto before mixing into pasta.

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