Pesto Vinaigrette from Canadian Living: a great partner for whatever you are grilling

I highly recommend this Pesto Vinaigrette recipe from Canadian Living. I used it with beef brochettes tonight, but really you can use it with lots and lots of things. For this recipe, from my Canadian Living’s Best Barbecue book,  you will need:

  • 1 lb / 500 g of sirloin steak (although any cut that does not requiring simmering will do)
  • 1 red onion (or regular or spanish, though red grills up nicely)
  • 2 peppers (e.g. 1 red and 1 green)
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 12 mushroom caps
  • olive oil
  • and of course the pesto vinaigrette
  1. Now with the steak and the vegetables you are going to make your brochettes. Cut the beef into cubes and then cut the vegetables so they are roughly the same size.
  2. Thread the meat and veggies on skewers, alternating them any way you like.
  3. Brush the brochettes with some oil and let sit for 30 minutes outside your fridge. You don’t have to, but the result will be better if you do.
  4. In the meantime, fire up your grill to a high heat.
  5. After the 30 minutes is up, brush the vinaigrette over the brochettes and grill them for 12 to 14 minutes until the beef is medium rare and the veggies are tender crisp.
  6. All the while you are grilling them, brush more vinaigrette over them to intensify the  flavour and prevent them from drying out.
  7. Take them off the grill, let them stand for 5 minutes until a foil covered plate, then salt and pepper them and serve.

So that’s the recipe. You don’t have to use steak: all kinds of meat will work with this. Perhaps even salmon or a full flavoured, steak-like fish. Or veggie only would be great too. Likewise, if you don’t like eggplant, replace it with zucchini or more mushrooms, etc. Try to pick something that grills well with those other vegetables. Or if you live for steak, add more steak.

If you can get fresh basil, then you are in business. However, it is not always easy to get in winter. In a pinch, you can fall back on dried basil and you will still get that basil flavour. (If after you make it with the dried basil, you find it isn’t strong enough, slowly add more dried basil to taste.)

I boiled some fingerling potatoes while this was going and drained them when they had softened but weren’t mushy, roughly 10 minutes or so. (Test them with a fork to see they are done). I had some left over vinaigrette which I mixed into some mayo, then I tossed the pesto-mayo combo with the potatoes and some bite sized pieces of romaine lettuce  bef0re serving them on them side. Other waxy potatoes, chunks of tomato (not too wet), cooked green beans, cooked peas, are also vegetables that would work. You could also have rice or couscous or a side salad, too and stir some of the pesto in to your taste. Or remove the pieces from the skewers and serve in a warm pita. Likewise you could chop up some lettuce and wrap everything in a warmed tortilla.

This dish has alot of flavour. The recipe is called provencal beef brochettes, so a good sturdy and rustic red like a Côtes du Rhône or Côtes du Rhône Villages would work well, as would a Côtes de Provence. I’m a big fan of wines from the Minervois appellation and I think that would also work. Canadian winemakers use alot of baco noir, and I think that would be great. Chianti or sangiovese or any hearty Italian red would hit the spot, as would rich reds from warm climates like Spain, Southern California or Australia. Beer and steak also are a great match, and “red” beers I think would go well with this, as would any beer with some bite. Finally, a great sparkling water or an acidic cola would be a refreshing drink for those who prefer not to have alcohol.

If you are lucky and you have some vinaigrette left, you could also toss them with recently cooked pasta to make a tasty pasta salad. Even better, if you have some leftover veggies and steak, add that to it.

There are lots of great BBQ sauces and salsas to add to grilled food. This pesto vinaigrette is a nice break from all that, and the short amount of time it takes to make — it took me around 5 minutes — is very much worth it.

P.S. Make sure you add 3 (or 4 or 5!) cloves of garlic to this. It makes a big difference. Same for the tsp of salt.
P.S.S. You don’t need a food processor: I used an old blender and it worked great. And if you are good with chopping and don’t mind it chunky, you could get by with just a knife and a bowl to blend it in.
P.S.S.S. If you are going with steak, sirloin is a good choice. It is relatively not too expensive, and the pesto will overwhelm better cuts. Save the better cuts for a simple preparation (e.g. a light dusting of pepper and salt at the end, or perhaps a flavoured butter).

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