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Can you rescue my pesto?

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shpitzlefan Apr 23, 2009 05:24 PM

I made a double batch of pesto and it is SO garlicky, i"m so upset... I mean, it burns the back of my throat. it totally overwhelms the basil. Is there anything I can add to tone down the bite of the garlic? Anything except more basil- I'm all out ; (

  1. s
    shpitzlefan Apr 26, 2009 09:26 AM

    It's a couple of days later but I wanted to let you know that 1) it mellowed considerably by the next day, and 2) I added a little spinach (frozen- I just defrosted and squeezed dry) and walnuts. It was delicious- thanks for all your suggestions!

    1 Reply
    1. re: shpitzlefan
      goodhealthgourmet Apr 26, 2009 12:18 PM

      glad to hear you salvaged it! and thanks for reporting back to let us know how you fared...so many people never bother.

    2. BamiaWruz Apr 23, 2009 09:07 PM

      I don't know if you can cook it on a low flame like the spinach pesto I made, found that when the garlic was cooked a bit it really tamed the flavour.

      1 Reply
      1. re: BamiaWruz
        greygarious Apr 26, 2009 09:49 AM

        Second the cooking - I made way too much pesto last summer, and the garlic was overwhelming, but the last thing I wanted to do was create even more of it by diluting it with more basil, buts, and cheese. I don't know that it mellowed any over time. I froze it in containers and have been using it gradually, so sometimes a whole defrosted container is in the fridge for several days; other times I just carve out a hunk of frozen and return its container to the freezer. Mostly, I cook the pesto and add some light cream or other dairy. Sauteed onions help, too.

      2. Emmmily Apr 23, 2009 07:20 PM

        Goodhealthgourmet is right. If you're out of basil, try spinach instead for this addition. I usually use a mix in my pesto recipe. To reply to kubasd, I usually use walnuts instead of pine nuts, and while the taste is a little different, I like it just fine - and with that many far more pungent ingredients (basil, garlic, romano), the nut difference really isn't noticeable.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Emmmily
          kubasd Apr 23, 2009 07:22 PM

          I've made it using walnuts and I love that, but the person i wanted to make some for is deathly allergic to tree nuts. He's never had pesto because of it.

          1. re: kubasd
            Emmmily Apr 23, 2009 08:04 PM

            Whoops, misread your question - I thought you were looking for a tree-nut to sub in for the pine nuts. I think of the nuts as something blander to cut all those strong flavors and add a little bulk. You're probably just fine without it.

            1. re: kubasd
              goodhealthgourmet Apr 23, 2009 08:08 PM

              i'd definitely try it with pumpkin seeds if he can eat them.

              another weird thought that might work...roasted soynuts.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                Emmmily Apr 23, 2009 08:38 PM

                Now there's an idea. Finely chopped firm tofu had crossed my mind, but it just seemed so wrong - at least soy nuts are nut-like.

          2. Phurstluv Apr 23, 2009 05:45 PM

            I would even try cutting it with some stock, chicken or vegetarian, to spread out the garlic in some liquid.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Phurstluv
              kubasd Apr 23, 2009 07:13 PM

              on a related note, Would making pesto without the pine nuts completely change the flavor, or would there be a none tree nut substitute?

              1. re: kubasd
                goodhealthgourmet Apr 23, 2009 07:22 PM

                "technically" it's not pesto without nuts, but we won't tell ;)

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/554714

                1. re: kubasd
                  Caitlin McGrath Apr 23, 2009 08:35 PM

                  I've made it without and it still has the essential taste of pesto. Truly, it's not too different at all. An allergy (I assume that's the issue) should not deprive one of the glory that is fresh pesto nirvana.

                  1. re: kubasd
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                    Sal Vanilla Apr 26, 2009 09:47 AM

                    I wonder if chickpeas would work in place of the tree nuts. You could toast the chickpeas first to bring out a nutty flavor and texture.

                  2. re: Phurstluv
                    hotoynoodle Apr 26, 2009 12:32 PM

                    traditional pesto has a long shelf life. adding stock would decrease that dramatically.

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                    adamshoe Apr 23, 2009 05:43 PM

                    Why do you think it came out more garlicky (?) than usual? Were your cloves extra huge, or was it the same amount you've always used? Different type of garlic? Sorry to ask so many ?'s, but I'm just nosy ;) adam

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: adamshoe
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                      smtucker Apr 23, 2009 07:25 PM

                      I am betting it is China garlic which has a really strong and almost bitter flavor. I started to notice this change in the flavor profile about a year ago. Sadly, I was forced to pay attention when I "ruined" a batch of hummus.

                      More of every other ingredient is the only way to rebalance the flavors.

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                      adamshoe Apr 23, 2009 05:39 PM

                      Maybe a little lemon zest and a pinch or 2 of granulated sugar? Maybe the garlic will "tame" after an hour or 2 of resting? Try adding some parsley to it if you have some (even dried would work...) random thoughts... adam

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: adamshoe
                        alwayscooking Apr 23, 2009 05:42 PM

                        Adam - you're right, the garlic will mellow with age. Sh-fan, wait til tomorrow - if it's still strong, add more parm and nuts (or got to the store and follow GHG's recommendation).

                      2. goodhealthgourmet Apr 23, 2009 05:39 PM

                        i hate to say it, but you really just need to add more of everything *except* garlic to dilute it throughout a greater volume of other ingredients. do you have any fresh parsley? that would help, as would more cheese, nuts & oil.

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