Pacific Coast Pesto

Pacific Coast Pesto
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About This Recipe

Amidst the sprawling vineyards of Napa Valley, where the sun kisses the earth and wine flows as freely as water, I found inspiration in the least expected place – the vast Pacific coast. The dance of the seaweeds with the waves, the salty breeze, and the unmistakable taste of the ocean nudged me towards creating the Pacific Coast Pesto, a testament to the varied flavors California offers.

My journey began with a simple drive along the scenic coast. I was enticed by the rich biodiversity, especially the seaweeds which held secrets from the deep blue. Blending this treasure with aromatic basil from Napa, and substituting pine nuts with our local almonds, I reinvented the Italian classic. The briny undertone of the seaweed marries beautifully with the fragrant basil, offering a gustatory experience that's both unique and familiar.

Now, for the home chefs eager to bring the taste of California wine country onto their plate, this pesto serves as a versatile condiment. Spread it on toasted sourdough, use it as a base for a pizza topped with fresh veggies and goat cheese, or stir it into pasta for a quick dinner. Speaking of side dishes, a salad of heirloom tomatoes, burrata, arugula, and a drizzle of Napa Valley olive oil is a match made in heaven. Finish the meal with a light dessert - perhaps a citrus panna cotta or almond biscotti.

One cannot speak of the Pacific Coast Pesto without mentioning sourcing. The seaweed can be hand-harvested along the coast, but if you're far from the shoreline, local farmers' markets or specialty stores in Napa and Sonoma counties often carry them.

And, dear wine enthusiasts, I've got you covered. For a white wine pairing, the nuanced flavors of this pesto find a soulmate in a bright and zesty Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma-Cutrer, located not too far from Bodega Bay. Their vineyards, kissed by the ocean breeze, give the wine its signature crispness. If you have a penchant for reds, a Pinot Noir from Fort Ross Vineyard, perched majestically near The Sea Ranch, embodies the coastal terroir with its delicate berry notes and a hint of sea salt, making it a beautiful complement to the pesto. And for those who love to venture a bit further, Hartford Family Winery near Tomales produces a Chardonnay that’s both robust and elegant – the buttery notes of this wine echo the richness of the pesto while the slight acidity cuts through, balancing the flavors.

On a warm summer evening in the valley, when the sky paints a myriad of colors and the chirping of the crickets fills the air, a plate of pasta dressed in Pacific Coast Pesto, a glass of wine from the heart of California, and the company of loved ones is all one needs. As the flavors unfold on your palate, let them transport you to the places where they were born - the sun-drenched vineyards, the azure Pacific, and the golden hills of our beloved Napa.

So, to all the valley chefs and wine country explorers, this is more than just a recipe; it's a slice of California's heart. Dive into it, savor it, and let the story of our land unfold in every bite. Happy cooking, and cheers to your Napa Valley-inspired culinary adventures!

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Pacific Seaweed

Pacific Seaweed is more than just an oceanic plant; it's a powerhouse of nutrients and flavors. Hand-harvested from the pristine Pacific coastline, varieties like nori and dulse add a unique briny undertone to dishes, setting them apart. High in iodine, vitamins, and minerals, this hero ingredient doesn't just elevate the taste but also boasts numerous health benefits. When combined with other fresh produce from the Californian terroir, it creates an unparalleled gastronomic experience.

How To: Toasting California Almonds

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Spread the California almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Ensure they're not overcrowded.
  3. Toast in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, giving the pan a good shake halfway through to ensure even browning.
  4. Check frequently to prevent over-toasting, as almonds can burn quickly.
  5. Remove from the oven and let them cool. Your almonds are now ready to add a crunchy texture and enhanced flavor to your Pacific Coast Pesto.

FAQs about Pacific Coast Pesto

  1. Can I substitute the Pacific seaweed with another type? While Pacific seaweed like nori or dulse adds a unique flavor, you can use other seaweed varieties. However, flavors might slightly vary.
  2. How long can I store the Pacific Coast Pesto? The pesto can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week. For longer storage, consider freezing it in ice cube trays and transferring the cubes to a freezer bag.
  3. I have a nut allergy. What can replace the toasted California almonds? If you're allergic to almonds, you can use toasted sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds as a substitute. These will offer a different texture and taste but keep the pesto nut-free.
  4. What's the best way to store leftover pesto? To retain its vibrant color and freshness, press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pesto before sealing the container. This reduces air exposure and maintains its flavor.
  5. Can I make this pesto vegan? Absolutely! Substitute the Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese with nutritional yeast or vegan cheese. Adjust the quantity to match your taste preference.

Tips for Success

  1. Use Fresh Ingredients: While it might be tempting to use store-bought seaweed or dried basil, nothing beats the flavor of fresh ingredients. Hand-harvested Pacific seaweed and fresh basil leaves from the Napa Valley will make a significant difference in taste.
  2. Blend Gradually: While adding olive oil, ensure the food processor is running at a low speed. Drizzling it in slowly helps achieve the right consistency without making the pesto too oily.
  3. Adjust to Taste: Remember, the amount of salt may vary based on the brininess of your seaweed. After blending, taste the pesto and adjust the seasoning as needed. It's always better to start with less and add more if necessary.

Recipe Overview

Recipe:
Pacific Coast Pesto
Author:
Lily Anderson
Season:
Summer
Yield:
4 servings
Calories Per Serving:
280
Prep Time:
PT15M
Cook Time:
PT0M
Total Time:
PT15M

Ingredients List

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh Pacific seaweed (like nori or dulse), rinsed and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup toasted California almonds
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, preferably sourced from Napa Valley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, from a California Meyer lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes (optional for a little heat)

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. In a food processor, combine the seaweed, basil, garlic, and almonds. Pulse until finely chopped.
  2. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture forms a smooth paste.
  3. Add the grated cheese, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Blend until everything is well incorporated. If desired, add red pepper flakes for an added kick.
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

Get ready to experience the rich flavors and unique culinary delights that embody the essence of wine country living. Happy cooking!

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