Here’s One Simple Recipe That Will Help Get You Through All This
Not too long ago—oh, say, about three or four weeks—cooking at home was either a hobby savored by the culinarily inclined, a necessary chore, or completely non-existent. Unfortunately for the latter camp, their options for dining out have been severely limited as many restaurants have been forced to scale back operations or close their doors altogether. With the (hopefully temporary) shortage of dining establishments comes a newly minted army of home cooks who are struggling to prepare meals that aren’t actually cereal.
We’re, by no means, anti-pasta at Bonobos; we just firmly believe that variety is the spice of life and the secret ingredient to maintaining your sanity in isolation. To help expand your horizons in the kitchen, we called up Eric Bolyard, executive chef and managing partner of New York’s acclaimed Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, to get some pro-tips for rookie chefs along with a foolproof recipe that anybody can make at home.
The key is to “start simple,” he says. “And take care in seasoning your food with good technique. The most experienced chefs spent years stripping away to focus on whatever’s on the plate or in the bowl.” It’s important not to overthink things because you’ll just end up psyching yourself out before the oven preheats. Focus on easy dishes that involve just a few ingredients, which means less opportunity to screw up.
Chef Bolyard’s recipe for “Any-Herb Pesto” is the perfect jumping-off point if you’re aiming for simplicity or if your produce reserves are running low. Its plug-and-play formula and multi-purpose use brings “versatility and something vibrant in both flavor and color when we need it most,” says Bolyard. “The flexibility in my recipe allows for your own exploration with your preferred flavors or availability of ingredients. Make it once, and you’ll be using it on everything. I made pesto the other day with spring ramps, a local and seasonal variation on the classic, and used it in so many different applications afterward that it seemed like a no-brainer to share.”
One recipe, endless possibilities. And if you have the resources, please do what you can to help the restaurant industry and their staff during these tough times.
By Eric Bolyard, Chef and Managing Partner of Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels
6 ounces any herb(s) of your choice or a combination of whatever you have, large stems removed
Suggested Herbs: Flat Leaf Parsley, Basil, Mint, Tarragon, Arugula, Ramp Tops, Scallion Green Tops
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 ounces raw pistachios without shell, or any preferred nut
Suggested Nuts: Pistachio, Pine Nuts, Almonds, Walnuts, Cashews
2 ounces grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Sardo or any hard cheese
Dried chili flakes to taste or freshly cracked black pepper
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Tip: “Have all your ingredients prepped in front of you and make sure to grind the coarsest ingredients first.”
Submerge your herb leaves in cold water and agitate with your hand to remove any dirt. Pour out the dirty water and repeat once more, if needed. Dry all the leaves thoroughly in a salad spinner or gently between clean paper towels.
In a food processor*, add the pistachios or desired nut, 1 teaspoon salt, and dried chili flakes with a 1/4 cup of the olive oil and process until broken down into a coarse paste. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
In the empty food processor, add your herbs with another 1/4 cup of olive oil and blend until fully broken down, making sure to scrape the sides to ensure all leaves are incorporated. Add the herb mixture to the bowl.
Zest the skin of one lemon and grate the Parmigiano into the bowl, then season with salt. Fold in the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil with a spatula to mix all ingredients until combined. Adjust the seasoning one more time so you know exactly what you’ll be serving.
Note: Leftover pesto can be covered with olive oil and stored in an airtight container to preserve the color and flavor.
- Toss with your favorite pasta or spaghetti squash
- Spoon it over eggs
- Schmear it onto toast for a savory breakfast
- Use it as a sauce for any meat or fish
- Whisk into brothy soups
- Fold into mayonnaise or cream cheese for sandwiches and bagels
- Toss with warm roasted vegetables or as a dip for fresh crudité
- Scoop onto crackers or chips
*If you don’t have a food processor, go the traditional route with a mortar and pestle, or a very sharp knife, a cutting board, and some elbow grease. “It takes a bit more grit and patience, but the result of using nothing but your own human tools is quite rewarding,” says Bolyard.