You gotta love the way our bodies work. We are born with more than 10,000 taste buds that are housed inside papillae — those bumps you see at the back of your tongue. Inside those buds are tons of taste cells that detect what you’re eating and send that information to your brain. As we age, our taste buds become less sensitive, so the foods that we once found unappealing, don’t send as many strong signals to our brains. That’s why, as we get older, our palates change and we discover a newfound love for foods we may have hated during our childhood.
Over the last few years, I’ve taken a “leap of food” and dived right into the foods that I used to stay away from. I discovered a taste for fresh ginger, creamy mayonaisse, artichokes, and pesto. Of course there are still foods that I won’t touch with a 10-foot-pole like liver (or any offal), cilantro, fennel, and pattypan squash, but I’m coming around.
Once I really began to appreciate pesto, I went all out with different flavor combinations. I’ve tried spinach, walnut & cheddar, garlic scape, parsley pistachio (hope to blog that one soon!) and of course the classic basil & pine nut. But marcona almond pesto is by far my favorite. If you’ve never heard of Marcona almonds, they are native to Spain and are rounder and more plump than traditional California almonds that we’re used to. Their higher fat content gives them an unsurpassed taste and texture. In pesto, they add an amazing butteriness that is unmatched by any ingredient.
With the holiday of Shavuos coming up in a few weeks, I’ll be making the most of dairy recipes! Stay tuned for fun ways to use pesto as well as other fabulous milky creations!
Marcona Almond Pesto
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
½ cup marcona almonds
½ cup grated Natural & Kosher parmesan
2 garlic cloves, peeled
juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 tbsp)
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2-3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Place everything besides the olive oil in a food processor or blender and blend until roughly chopped. While the machine is running, slowly add the olive oil until the mixture turns into a creamy spread. Add more olive oil if you plan to use it as a sauce, and less olive oil if you plan to use it as a dip/spread.
TIP: Marcona almonds can be found at gourmet markets, including Costco (their Kirkland almonds can also be found on Amazon). If you can’t source them, you can use blanched toasted almonds instead.
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