As I mentioned yesterday, the Philharmonic performed its spring concert over the weekend. During the week leading up to the concert, the horn soloist and his wife, Sallie, were planning a reception to be held at their house afterward, and as you can imagine, I was sure Sallie was doing most of the planning. Not to cast doubt on Steve as a 50-50 kind of guy around the house, but with the pressure of such a big solo/ensemble performance, he probably was not thinking about how much food and how much beer to have for how many guests.
I offered to help, and Sallie accepted, and we got to work. We agreed to host a dip buffet. I've never seen one of those before, so we made it up. We planned to have large bowls of things—chilled shrimp, tortilla chips, pita chips, fresh vegetables—to be served with an assortment of dips—salsa, artichoke, hummus, creamy dill, Asian, etc. I thought the mint pesto I had learned to make last spring would be perfect for the shrimp, but it's really more of a sauce for drizzling than a dip for, well, dipping. So, I made a practice batch.
I mixed up all the ingredients, and as I suspected, it was not dippable, but a light bulb went on, and I wondered what the stuff would be like with mayo added, and maybe a little sour cream. Not too much but enough to make the consistency right for scooping up with a nice jumbo shrimp. You know, it's not bad. Not bad at all. I don't use Miracle Whip, in case you're thinking about doing something disgusting. I use Hellmann's real mayonnaise made with olive oil. Yum.
I had so much of the stuff, though, and it wouldn't keep until Saturday, so I had to use it up during a week when I was all by myself—Husband was away on a golf trip. So, one day I had it for lunch with shrimp as a dip, and that night, I heated some shrimp, mixed in the pesto dip and served it to myself with roasted asparagus. The next day, I spooned it into shrimp tacos, and the day after that, I mixed it in with crab for crab cakes. With each meal, I thought this is what God eats, to borrow a phrase from my daughter, but I'll confess I finally got tired of it. I'd made so many crab cakes, I ate them for dinner three evenings straight.
I made a fresh batch for the party, and now I think I've had my fill of mint pesto for a while. But the next time I have a hankering for something amazing, mayo or no, this will be what I make.
This is how it goes:
1 cup tightly packed fresh mint leaves
2 serrano chiles, chopped (I use half a jalapeno instead)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
Mix it all up in a food processor until it is the consistency of pesto. If you want to use it as a dip, mix it in with mayonnaise and sour cream a spoonful at a time until you get the dip of your dreams.