Chopped: Sweet Pesto and Toasted Bread — Krysta Worthen

Posted on January 24, 2014


“One of you will be Chopped,” I try to imagine Ted Allen saying to me and my invisible competitors as I begin to create what is hopefully a Chopped Champion worthy dish out of much simpler basket ingredients: sugar, bread, and pesto.

I could have done one of two things with pesto, made my own or bought pre-made pesto sauce at the store. I decided to make my own and to add a little twist, I would use sugar in the sauce since it was one of my ingredients. I went out and bought basil, a baguette, sugar, two heads of garlic, parmesan cheese, and cappellini. So began my adventure of pesto cappellini with homemade croutons and sliced bread.

I chopped up the basil, added in a few cloves of garlic, chopped it until it was fine, and then added in the olive oil and blended it until it was a smooth sauce. I tasted it and wow was it garlicky. I put some on a piece of the baguette and handed it to my boyfriend who told me it burned his tongue because the garlic was so overwhelming. I was hoping that the sugar I had to add in as one of the basket ingredients would sweeten it up and cut the bite from the garlic, so I put in a few pinches of sugar and blended it up again. Once the sauce was done, I heated up the oven, cut the baguette into both slices and tiny squares, rubbed a clove of garlic on the sliced pieces of bread and put it all on a cookie sheet in the oven. The bread toasted, I cooked the pasta, heated up the sauce, and grated the parmesan to both mix into the sauce and sprinkle on top, and all the components were ready.

I prepared them as beautifully as I could (Chopped inspired) and snapped a few pictures, then it was time to taste. I was pleasantly surprised with the sauce, it was definitely still a strong taste, but the sugar helped a bit without making it overwhelmingly sweet. My boyfriend thought it was still a bit too potent for his taste, but he liked the overall flavor of the sauce and so did I. The ‘croutons’ were a little too toasted and were pretty crispy, but the crunch of the crouton and the smooth chewiness of the al dente cappellini provided a great texture combination.

Things I will change when I make this again: I will remember pine nuts, an essential ingredient in pesto sauce, I will only put probably one clove of garlic in, and I will take the bread out of the oven much sooner. I did, however, love making this sauce from scratch for the first time and enjoyed the challenge of incorporating sugar into an otherwise savory dish.

Hopefully I’ll make it to the dessert round with this one.

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Posted in: Student Posts