When I first found out what Pesto was and how to make it, I was addicted to it. But, being kind of a literal person I thought that it was the “Food Law” that things such as pesto were supposed to be made the same way each time. Not so much, any more. Now, being old and wise, or at least cheap and lazy, I now make Pesto out of what ever I have in the frig or pantry and I have learned that pesto means anything made by pounding.
I do stick by the basic premise of having a green leafy fresh herb or vegetable, a nut of some kind, cheese of some kind and oil. I don’t always use garlic.
In a marble mortar and with a wooden pestle
Reduce garlic and pine nuts to a cream
Add basil leaves and coarse salt and grind everything to a creamy consistency
Finally add Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and grind into the mixture adding olive oil to create a paste.
This paste can be refrigerated for a week or frozen for several months in an air tight container.
Traditional pesto is used with pasta of course, but is also an important ingredient in minestrone soup. It is great with tomatoes and potatoes.
Believe me, I have made pesto the traditional way in a mortar and pestle, but only once. I found the “food processor” and have used it as such ever since.
- In a food processor place
- 3-5 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 lb roasted pine nuts
- and pulse until creamy
- stuff in 5 cups of basil leaves
- pulse until it all comes together
- add 1/4 to 1/2 lb Parmigiano-Reggiano that has been coarsely diced
- turn on the processor and through the open spout slowly drizzle in olive oil until the mixture is to the desired consistency.
- Season with salt and pepper as needed
For a milder flavor try:
- 1/2 lb of walnuts – toasted
- 3 cups of packed spinach
- 1/2 lb of white cheddar cheese
- walnut oil and salt as needed
- 1/2 lb of toasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds (hulled)
- 3 cups of rocket arugula or Cilantro (or both)
- 1/4 cup grated pepper jack cheese
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 jalapeno pepper
- olive oil and salt as needed
Try different cheeses, sprouts, broccoli, peanuts, almond nuts and have fun. – Jughandle