We all know what to do with liquors we like. It’s not very difficult to figure out what to do with something good. Well, if you do need help figuring out what to do with good liquors, I’m always available with a million ideas. But what do you do when you have a whole bottle of liquor that isn’t good, isn’t bad, but is just mediocre?
I came into this situation with a bottle of dry gin we bought recently. It was good in the first drink. It was alright in the second drink. But after the 3rd or 4th try, it was just like any other gin. There was no way I was going to throw it away.
Fast forward through my brainstorming session to my bright idea to make pesto pasta with gin. I’m going to walk you through the steps of making this surprisingly good recipe. This serves 2 people, but can be doubled or tripled or quadrupled or… I think you get the picture. Also, the way I made it was completely vegan, but you can add meat or cheese as desired. As always with pasta dishes, get your pot of water heating up while you prepare other things.
First, I prepared the pesto. Not including shopping time, this portion of the recipe takes literally 2 minutes.
What you need:
1 cup of fresh washed basil leaves– when you’re filling your measuring cup, pack the leaves tightly to get the most flavorful pesto.
1/4 cup pine nuts– did y’all know how expensive pine nuts were?? It’s insane. Substitute with walnuts if you don’t feel like spending $8 on one handful of nuts.
1/4 cup olive oil– olive oil works best, but can be substituted for other oils.
1.5 oz. gin– If you’re making extra pesto to save for later, skip the gin.
1 pinch of salt– this is especially helpful in bringing out all the flavors in the basil, but if you’re going to use parmesan, you can skip this because parmesan is pretty salty.
Take all these ingredients and pour them into the blender. Puree until it’s all in little bits. Don’t worry about it being perfectly and evenly blended; that will give a little texture to the food. Save this pesto mixture for a little later on in the recipe.
At this point, I diced some onions to add a little extra flavor to the dish. I like onions, so I did 3 ring-slices worth.
This is also probably the point you should drop your pasta in the boiling water. I used De Cecco Farfalline because the only thing better than bowtie shaped pasta is tiny bowtie shaped pasta. Set a timer for half the recommended cooking time.
Pro tip: if you cook your pasta at a rolling boil at all times, it’s less likely to get stuck together.
In a frying pan, put just a dime sized drop of oil (there will plenty in the pesto, remember?) and turn the temp to medium low. When the pan is warm and the oil is a little less viscous and rolls around in the pan like water, drop in the onions and 1.5 oz of gin. You can season with a little garlic, salt and pepper if you like. The goal here is to brown the onions slightly– not so much that they get mushy… unless that’s how you like them, whatever. Turn the pan down to the lowest setting.
Now’s a good time to put your pesto in the pan, but don’t worry about stirring it yet.
When the timer for your pasta is up, taste it. I know, it’s not done yet, that’s the point! When the pasta is still slightly too chewy for your liking, drain it. Pour the pasta into the frying pan with the onions and the pesto. Pour another 1.5 oz of gin in with everything and stir thoroughly.
Aaaaaaand you’re done. Dish it up or eat it straight out of the pan! You’re the chef, you can do what you want!
Now you’ve successfully made a delicious pasta and managed to improve a significant amount of gin. Happy eating!