Monday, July 17, 2006

Pesto and Rosso take the Sub

On the weekend, we stumbled upon an Asian stand at the Farmer’s Market selling enormous bunches of basil. Usually we get basil in modest little plastic wrapped assortments of leaves, hardly enough to do any serious cooking with. But these were big bunches of fresh basil, heaped up in giant pile of fragrant freshness. Maybe they were a tad past baby basil sized, but still in their prime. My mind locked into pesto.

Pesto, if not originally from Genoa, in the Liguria region of Italy, certainly has strong roots there.

We couldn’t find a nice Rossese di Dolceacqua. Or some other wine from the Ligurian region. But we did have a nice Rosso di Montepulciano on hand, which is from right around the corner in Tuscany.

So I was pondering how to work in the pesto, and the wine from almost the same region, into a meal that most people here would actually eat. After the heirloom salad yesterday, I was inclined today to lean towards TeenBoy’s interests, i.e. meat.

We though initially of hamburgers. With some of the heirloom tomatoes and some pesto on top. Pesto burgers. But that didn’t involve the wine. And also seemed a bit heavy for our oppressively hot weather lately. Just a lot of fried meat.

When the idea initially hit me, I rejected it out off hand. Too odd. No one would eat it. And I was not even sure it would be as tasty to eat as the images in my mind might suggest.

But I floated the idea, and to my surprise, everyone was into it. Seemed good all the way around. TeenBoy even offered to do most of the work.

So off we went, inventing the Pesto Rosso Meatball Sub.

Fresh French baguettes. Because you can only get French bread here, not Italian. Whatever the difference might be. Split down the middle, brushed with olive oil, and toasted.

Fresh pesto sauce, with some of that nice basil, toasted pine nuts, lots of fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and my personal special touch of lemon juice. Along with a ton of garlic.

Plus heirloom tomatoes. ‘Nuff said!

And meatballs, laden with fresh oregano and some ground fennel seed. Not fried. As TeenGirl would launch an automatic protest (like at the UN Security Council). Plus it was too hot for heavy fried food. And not broiled, as I was concerned they would be too dry.

But basically poached in the red wine. Letting the meatballs soak up all that nice red wine flavor. And get super moist and juicy in the process.

We laid it all out on the toasted breads. First a layer of tomato slices. Then a layer of pesto, to act as a glue for the meatballs. Then the meatballs themselves. With some additional basil sprinkled on top. And other half of the bread as a lid.

The smoky wine and oregano infused meatballs were fantastic against the powerful garlicky basil pesto. With the super sweet heirloom tomatoes adding a bright sparkle of flavor on top.

The Pesto Rosso Sub
Recipe by surfindaave
Serves 4

2 fresh baguettes
4 pounds fresh ground turkey
2-3 tbsp fresh oregano leaves, lightly chopped
1 tbsp onion powder
salt, pepper to taste
1 bottle full bodied red wine
4 ripe red tomatoes, sliced
basil, chopped

For the pesto:
2-3 cups loosely packed basil leaves
1 cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
¼ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
Juice from one lemon
3-4 cloves garlic
olive oil

Make the pesto: combine all ingredients, except olive oil, in a food processor. Pulse several times, scrape down sides, and pulse several more times. Scrape down sides again. With the motor running, drizzle in olive oil just until a smooth paste is formed. Remove pesto to a bowl, and reserve in refrigerator.

In a bowl, combine the ground meat, oregano, onion powder, salt and pepper. Form into 32 equal sized balls.

To one or two skillets large enough to hold all the meatballs in a single layer, add about 1 inch of wine. Bring the wine to a boil, and turn down heat. Add meatballs, and cook at a bare simmer, covered, turning occasionally, for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, and reserve.

Cut the baguettes in half lengthwise. Brush the insides with olive oil. Toast the halves under the broiler until lightly browned. Remove and reserve.

To assemble, layer the bottom halves of the baguettes with tomato slices. Spread (or pipe) the pesto over the tomatoes. Place a row of drained meatballs down the center of the breads on top of the pesto. Sprinkle the meatballs with the chopped basil. Set the top halves of the bread on top. Cut each sub into 2 or 3 pieces. Serve. Enjoy!

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Blogger Derek said...

Looks great may have to give this one a try.

7:18 AM  

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