Most of the fresh basil we get in our Ranui Gardens CSA box, Genovese basil, lemon basil and even some of the Thai basil, gets made into pesto—squirreled away in the freezer for winter easy meals.
We slather pesto on pasta and pizza and swirl the emerald green into minestrone soup when it’s freezing outside. Pesto becomes our quick and easy après ski (and work) secret ingredient, a ready memory of summer CSA gleanings.
This year I discovered a new pesto variation, from girlfriend Ellza, who on her travels to New Mexico, learned to add green chile powder to the basil, nuts, garlic and olive oil essence. When she first described green chile pesto, I pictured diced green chiles in the puree. No that’s not it. You need to use New Mexico green chile powder, ground dried green chiles. (Note the spelling—chile powder or ground dried chile is not to be confused with chili powder, which is ground chile powder with cumin and salt and dehydrated garlic in the mixture.) I had ancho chile and Chimayo chile and California chile powder in the spice cupboard but green chile powder was new to me. Now I have a pound of New Mexico green chile powder, seemingly more than I’ll ever use, its earthy and fruity aroma leaking from the bag ready for a batch of Southwestern inspired pesto.
Green Chile Pesto
1 large garlic clove
1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, broken in pieces or already grated (don’t even think of using that sawdust in the green can)
1 cups tightly packed, stemmed fresh basil
1/4 cup walnuts (or pine nuts to be extravagant)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon New Mexico green chile powder
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Add the ingredients in the order directed for efficient use of the food processor. With the motor of the food processor running, mince the garlic by dropping it through the feed tube. Process until it is very fine. Add the cheese, basil, walnuts, salt and green chile powder. Process for about 10 seconds, stopping to move things around if they get hung up. With the machine running, pour oil through the feed tube in a thin stream, processing until everything is well blended. Taste. The pesto should be hot and spicy, but if you wish, add more green chile powder: season to your liking.
Makes about 3/4 cup. Scrape into small containers immediately and freeze. To use in winter, thaw the pesto only enough so you can scrape some out.