Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Basil Pesto Marinade/Dressing/Sauce/Drizzle/Dip #PantryInsiders

A local food emporium had samples of a basil dressing/marinade that I was pretty impressed with. But perhaps a bit too much garlic.

Let me explain. I happen to love garlic. But lately it seems like every recipe I make has an abundance of garlic.

Well, except the ice cream. 

But like anything else, there comes a point when enough is enough. Although the basil flavor in the dressing was lovely, I decided that there was just a smidgen too much garlic for me to spend the money on it. And then I remembered the bag of basil I bought at the farmers market. I had used some of the basil for a few recipes, but I had plenty left. So why not make my own garlic-lite basil dressing?

Besides the lightening of the garlic flavor (this still has a smidge), this isn't exactly the same as the dressing in the store. I decided to make it a little bit creamy by adding mayonnaise, and it also helped to emulsify and thicken the dressing.

I used Pompeian olive oil and red wine vinegar, since I've been working with them on their #PantryInsiders promotion. It's nice to work with companies that have products I use every day. And let me tell you, I go through olive oil like it grow on trees.

As part of their program, Pompeian hosted an on-air live olive oil tasting a while back. It was pretty interesting, and a little weird. I mean, how often do you sit around and taste a bunch of different olive oils?

But, it was a great way to really taste the differences. When I open a new bottle of olive oil, I usually taste it to see how sharp or peppery or fruity or mellow it is, but except when I was at a store that had samples, I don't think I've ever tasted that many varieties of oil.

After the tasting, Pompeian, offered to send us our favorite oil, and I chose the Arbequina, which is what I used here. It was the mildest and smoothest of the varietals, but with more flavor than the light olive oil.

My first use of this basil dressing was on top of some farmers market tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, but it would also be great as a salad dressing, as a marinade, a drizzle over pork, chicken, or fish, or even on pasta. Or for dipping bread into. Or ... hmmm ... I'm sure I'll think of other things.

Like spreading it on a sandwich, or mixing into some scrambled eggs.

Maybe I should go make some more. I might not have enough.

Creamy Basil Dressing

2 cups lightly packed basil leaves (and tender stems, if you like)
1/2 cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons roughly snipped chives
1/4 cup Pompeian red wine vine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Several grinds black pepper
Pinch of garlic powder (optional)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Pompeian Arbequina olive oil

Combine everything except the olive oil in your blender or food processor and blend until the herbs are blitzed into small bits. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed to make sure you don't have any large leaves left.

With the blender or food processor running, add the oil. Or, if you prefer, you can transfer the mixture to a bowl and whisk the oil in. Or transfer to a jar, add the oil, and shake until combined.

Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Keep in mind when you're tasting that you're not going to be eating this with a spoon - you'll be serving a small amount with other things.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate until needed.

This post is sponsored by Pompeian as part of the #PantryInsiders program.