Fresh basil pesto

I need to introduce you to a friend who lives with us. Mr. Mao. He lives with us at our little cozy apartment up on the hilltop where we frequently hang out and dine together; Mao is a lazy, messy prick and we blame him for every mess - from dirty floors to untidiness or forgotten dishes left on the sink, to that idiot who left the lights on. We will be mad at him but somehow with his presence, he had brought us so much joy, laughters and harmony that we could not be angry with him for long. In fact, we love him. We had spoked so much about him but non of our friends had actually met him.
You see, Mao is our an imaginary friend. "Mao" means "somebody" in Cantonese, metaphorically speaking - it meant to mean either one of us. It's our way of telling each other off for not keeping the apartment clean or doing the wrong things. In a nice way, so to speak so no feelings are hurt. Because of Mr. Mao presence, I am no longer the nagging annoyance and he's not the lazy king. Sometimes I will sarcastically announce, " Mao told me he's getting a new dishwasher that's why he had left the dishes are piling up." When the apartment do get magically tidy somedays. We knew Mao had felt guilty. On Sundays usually, a familiar afternoon text buzz on my phone "Are you at Mr. Mao's?" This didn't come as planned but Sundays' cooking for Mao had became a lovely weekly routine - Our date night.
I always decide the menu. Every Sunday afternoon I will arrive at Mr. Mao laden with shopping bagful of groceries. Last week was some spaghetti, colorful red and yellow peppers, bouquet of fresh basil, rocket leaves and of course some good wine. I uncorked the wine and pour a huge glassful for myself. I took a big sip - Umm…crispy, fruity Sauvignon Blanc are always my favorite. With the glass in my hand, I went to the living room to turn on the radio. Finding a familiar tune on air, I turn up the volume, just loud enough to sing along with the cheery music while putting the load away into the fridge, sinking into perfect mood.
I will set the table and light the candles. Mao will wait and sit. When dinner is ready. He will tell stories that make us laugh and glow in harmony, feeling the wine and food warming our bellies bringing us a little bit more of our togetherness again.

After dinner, we sunk into the couch letting the cushions hug us as we set out to recover from it. It was pretty typical he will say. "Mao' will clear up the table later." I reply simply with a smile because in my heart I know he does. Mao always does. Only that it be will five hours later just about the time before we head to slumber. I hope Mao does remember to bring out the trash too!

Good old pesto
Good to serve 4 as main meal on pasta or for sauce on grill meat.
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
Cloves of 1 whole garlic (I prefer my pesto with more garlic, adjust according to your taste)
½ cup pine nuts, toasted in oven
1 - 1½  cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan reggiano cheese
Juice of ½ lemon
Optional: 1 cup english parsley for the vibrant green color (Whizz together with basil)

Combine the garlic and ½ cup oil in a food processor whizz till garlic is liquified. Add basil and pine nuts pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the remaining oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Mix in the cheese and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Roasted peppers.
I like a nice smoky, roasty flavor to my pesto pasta. The peppers will fill your kitchen with their tempting aroma, they’ll be perfectly soft and best of all, they’ll be a snap to peel. It doesn't take long - maybe five minutes.

All you do is crank up the flame and watch over the peppers with a set of tongs. Make sure the peppers are perfectly charred-all-over without raw, impossible to peel areas.

Once done, Put them in a plastic bag to steam. Once they’re cool enough to handle, they’ll peel beautifully.  Discard the steam and seeds.Cut them into strips and toss together with the cook pasta and pesto sauce.

Putting together 
Cook pasta and toss pesto and peppers together. You can add other vegetables too. I've added sautéed mushrooms. Season with pepper and salt. Sprinkle more pine nuts and a generous shavings of parmesan reggiano cheese. Pasta is great to serve cold even from leftovers for lunch next day.

Till next post, ss.

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