Friday, January 29, 2010

Dear Theyie - green peppercorn pesto

Dear Theyie,
I am glad that K’s birthday went well. And I was happy to help.

Glad the pickled peppercorns added punch to your cooking.

They do seem to be the theme of the moment! I have been playing with green peppercorns this week, (they are in season at the moment). I look forward to their arrival with great anticipation every year.
Green peppercorns are unripe pepper berries that would be dried into black and white pepper for the table if their development were not arrested. I love green peppercorns for their bright, intense aroma, accented with hints of what I can only describe as green. Their flavour, is fresher and greener to the taste than dried peppers and brings a piquant accent to dishes. Try adding ground green peppercorns to creamy sauces or a few bunches whole to Thai curry at the very end of cooking. Enjoy the pleasant pungency of them bursting between your teeth.

Although green peppercorns are sold pickled in brine as a gourmet ingredient all over the world, they are a far more utilitarian ingredient in any Gujarati or South Indian home, where they are either pickled in brine or with lemon juice respectively and appear at the dinner table every winter. I pickle a batch every year so I can extend their season for a good long time. (They last more than a year). And the pickled ones work just as well as the fresh when the season is over. This year I also made a green peppercorn jelly that I am very happy with.

But before anything else, one of the first things I do when they come into season is make my signature

Green Peppercorn Pesto.

This Pesto is an ideal vehicle for the peppercorns. Make a batch and stir into hot, freshly cooked pasta, add to white sauce or spoon onto pasta or grilled chicken. It freezes well, too.

(Serves 4-6)
1/2 cup fresh green peppercorns
1 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oi
l3-4 pods garlic
Salt to taste

You can take the short cut and grind the green peppecrns in a blender, using just a few pulses so you get a coarse texture but I highly recommend pounding this pesto in a mortar and pestle. The results are phenomenal. Add rest of the ingredients into peppercorns and grind /pound to a coarse paste. To store: Transfer to a clean dry jar, top with olive oil and leave in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or freeze in single serving sized batches so you do not have to defrost the whole lot when you want to use it.

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1 comment:

evolvingtastes said...

Gorgeous! I didn't know green peppercorns were used so commonly in Indian cooking. Are they easily available in Bombay? Would love to try some of the pickle you mentioned.