Blender Pesto

Pesto is wonderful on poached chicken, chicken sandwiches, and grilled fish, as well as pasta.

2 cups fresh basil leaves, washed and patted dry 1/2 cup olive oil 2 tablespoons pine nuts 2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed with a heavy knife handle and peeled 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 2 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese 3 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature

Put the basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic cloves, and salt in the blender and mix at high speed. Stop from time to time and scrape the ingredients down toward the bottom of the blender cup with a rubber spatula.

When the ingredients are evenly blended, pour into a bowl and beat in the two grated cheeses by hand. (This is not much work, and it results in a more interesting texture and better flavor than you get when you mix in the cheese in the blender.) When the cheese has been evenly incorporated into the other ingredients, beat in the softened butter.

Before spooning the pesto over pasta, add to it a tablespoon or so of the hot water in which the pasta has boiled. Makes 6 servings.

From 'The Classic Italian Cookbook: The Art of Italian Cooking and the Italian Art of Eating,' by Marcella Hazan (Alfred A. Knopf)

Olive and Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto 3/4 cup pitted black olives 3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes 1 cup tightly packed fresh, washed basil leaves 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese Salt and pepper, to taste 3/4 cup olive oil

Place all ingredients except olive oil in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process until thoroughly mixed, scraping down bowl to ensure all ingredients are mixed. With blade running, slowly add olive oil until well blended. Makes about 1-3/4 cups.

Cilantro Pesto 2 cups fresh cilantro leaves, trimmed from stems, and carefully washed and patted dry. 2 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese Salt and pepper to taste 1/2 cup olive oil

Place cilantro, garlic, cheese, and salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse the machine on and off until the mixture is well chopped but not pured. With processor running, add olive oil slowly in a thin stream through the feed tube and continue to process until pesto is smooth. Makes about 1 cup.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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