Saturday, January 24, 2009

Pesto Pinwheels

I have a hard time using a full package of fresh herbs and often times, a part of it will end up in the garbage because I don't use it all fast enough. A few months ago, I found a solution to this - grow my own herbs! I purchased an Aerogarden and love it tremendously. It has saved me money from having to buy expensive packaged herbs at the store and it's perfect for folks who have a black thumb like me.

The one I have is the AeroGarden Classic. It allows enough room to grow 7 types of herbs at one time. I purchased my AeroGarden at Sams Club back in August 2008 and the kit that they sold came with 14 different types of herbs, nutrient tablets, and a free herb chopper/dressing maker. I believe my AeroGarden cost me $129.99 from Sams Club.

It's extremely easy to put together the base + lamp stand + lamp head. Screw on the light bulbs that comes included with the kit; fill the base with water and 2 nutrient tabs; drop in any 7 pods you'd like to start growing and plug it in. I do suggest plugging it in for the first time early in the morning as you start your day. The reason being is because the lights are pretty bright (to simulate natural sunlight) and these lights stay on for 16 hours. They shut off for 8 hours (to simulate night time), making it nice to pattern your day/night schedule. Once you plug it in, that's all there is to it. When the garden needs water or nutrients, the lights on the front panel will blink... so you just fill it up with water up to the water line and drop in the tablets - could it be any easier?! Don't expect the herbs to pop up over night. It takes roughly 2 months before they become mature enough to start using. If you don't like herbs, AeroGarden also makes pods for various types of lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries, beans, flowers, etc!

Currently I'm growing basil, oregano, thyme, sage, dill, curly parsley and chives. From my garden, I made a traditional basil pesto which I used to make these savory Pesto Pinwheel appetizers. You can make your own pesto or if you must, purchase it from the store.

Basil Pesto
makes about 1 cup

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves (2-3 bunches)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Place all the ingredients in a food processor; pulse a few times, then process until fairly smooth, or to the desired consistency, scraping down the sides occasionally.

Variations - You don't have to use basil. I've also made pesto using fresh sage leaves, oregano, and/or thyme either on its own or in a combination. You can also use other kinds of nuts such as walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, etc. Pesto is very versatile and can be made to fit your tastes or whatever ingredients you have on hand.

Pesto Pinwheels
recipe adapted from Pillsbury

1 cup prepared pesto (above)
1 tube package of croissant dough
1 egg, scrambled (for egg wash)

Preheat your oven to 350.

Line your baking sheet with parchment. If you don't have parchment, an ungreased baking sheet will do.

Remove the croissant dough from the packaging and unroll. Separate the dough into 4 rectangles (made up of 2 preforated triangles). Press the dough on the preforated edges to seal.

On each rectangle of dough, spread 1/4 cup of your prepared pesto.

Taking the short side of the rectangle, roll the dough to create a log.

Cut the log into 1/2" slices and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Repeat with the remaining rectangles of dough.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, rotating your pan after 5 minutes for even baking.

Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving warm.

I've also submitted this to the Grow Your Own blogging event this month. Be sure to check out Andrea's blog for the round up!