Friday, August 27, 2010

Day One Ninety Nine - It's that time again, GCF time, with a special pesto focus

When you think pesto, you think a basil based sauce don't you? Well folks, not every form of pesto you make has to look like what is pictured below...and actually the name pesto originates from "pestâ" which means "to pound," or "to crush," as in what happens to the herbs and garlic utilized to create this ubiquitous sauce.

I think that the base for a pesto sauce can be applied to a variety of other ingredients so that it does not strictly have be an ode to basil, not that there is anything wrong with basil. It is one of my favorite, if not my favorite herb, but it is nice to experiment with flavor profiles and see what happens when you take a tried and true recipe and substitute an ingredient here or there. That's the focus of today's simple GCF.

Ok, so when you break down a pesto, what do you have?

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to season

Why not substitute that pesto for yellow summer squash right? It's at its peak right now and is just so fantastic, I guarantee you will love this summer squash pesto. It will have a creamy yet bright, nutty, earthy side to it that is not present to the same degree in the original basil version. Instead of just chopping up the basil and throwing it into the food processor with your other ingredients, your summer squash version requires a little more work. You have to very quickly blanch your cubed summer squash so that it is still crunchy but is briefly cooked otherwise making a raw version might be a little tough on the stomach, that's for sure! Once your squash is cooked, throw all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend. So now that you've got your summer squash pesto, where do you go from here for this week's GCF?

Well, that's easy, this week's GCF is meant to be simple so you've just done most of the work for it, not all though....Lets get some nice pizza bianca from Grandaisy Bakery for our bread here. The pizza bianca is a simple flatbread foccacia with olive oil, sea salt and rosemary, the perfect base for our sandwich. Next up, you need to cut a few thin slices of zucchini which is the obvious and perfect counterpart to the summer squash. Place your paper thin slices of zucchini in a small saute pan with olive oil, garlic, and rosemary and cook low and slow till the slices are golden brown. Pull off the heat. Top each side of your sandwich with some of your summer squash pesto then your zucchini slices, which will be topped with a few slices of the French cheese, Abbaye de Belloc. Made by Benedictine Monks, this is a Basque French Pyrenees aged sheep's milk cheese. It's semi firm in texture with the perfect amount of buttery, caramelly, creamy notes on the tongue, a fabulous cheese for the nuttiness of our summer squash pesto. Next up, you need to top the cheese with a very very light sprinkling of chives and then bake this in the oven. Serve with one basil leaf on top of the sandwich for that added oomph. You want to try something refreshing with this sandwich that's for sure, maybe even with a bit of bubbles, a nice glass of Cava would be excellent or a Blanc de Blancs.

Enjoy the sandwich and the weather..

Abbaye de Belloc

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