Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pesto for my Pasta...or for a sandwich...or for some chicken

I looove pesto, especially in the summer because it tastes incredibly fresh, it's easy to make and you can use it in so many dishes. Now I've read in my food magazines that you can create a batch of pesto and freeze it in ice cube trays. Great idea, but unfortunately when I make my pesto I like to use it immediately. I'm not so great at that planning ahead stuff. If you are though more power to you!

So Pesto...According to my trusty Wikipedia reference guide, Pesto was originated in the Liguria region of Italy. Now I have traveled fairly extensively in Italy but unfortunately I have not been to this beautiful northern coastal region. Someday though right? The "sauces" popularity spread throughout Italy, France (specifically Provence) and other Mediterranean regions. Pesto meaning "to pound" or "to crush" is a reference to the traditional crushed basil, pinenuts and garlic of the "sauce".

With the help of my food processor I will sometimes stick with the traditional ingedients (basil, pinenuts, garlic, olive oil and parmesan cheese) but often I'll use whatever I can get my hands on. Here is my recipe for pesto success:

1 cup chopped greens (basil, mint or argula)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pinenuts or pistachios)
1/2 cup+ olive oil
1/2 cup+ parmesan cheese
salt to taste
Garlic 1 or 2 cloves chopped -- I know you're supposed to add some but hey, sometimes I'm just not in the garlic mood (ahem, I don't want to stink to the wholly heavens as I'm sweating out garlic on a run)

*Chop the nuts in the food processor
*Add chopped greens, garlic (if desired) and 1/4 cup of the oo. Pulse until combined. Taste (very important -- does it need more oil? Probably). Scoop mixture off sides and add in more oil. Pulse again until combined.
*Add in your cheese and a bit of salt. Again tasting is very important so have your tasting spoon handy. Add more oil, cheese or salt to make sure you've got the taste down right.

Presto you've got Pesto! See so easy right? Why would you buy the store bought stuff when you can go to a Farmer's Market for the greenies or even just pick up a $2 pack of herbs at the grocery? You can add it to pasta (cook 1 lb. of pasta according to directions, reserve 1/4 cup cooking liquid, drain and then stir together) for a hot or cold dish (referigerate for 2 hours and it makes excellent pasta salad. Even if you don't want to use the pesto with pasta, you can use it in lieu of mayo on your sandwich, use it as a topping for your chicken or fish...

*Other pesto ideas? Please comment and share them!


  1. thanks - I'm inspired to try it! do you have any recommendations for making sauces that have a yogurt base? or maybe a tzatziki? i wonder if those are just as easy?

  2. I totally agree about not stinking like garlic. I never thought of not putting it in. What a great idea!

  3. i have actually made wasn't as good as the stuff I had fresh in greece (with the aegean lapping at my toes at dinner) BUT it was almost as good as stuff in american greek restaurants. i play around with several recipes at once and I collect them from (@LB). Robyn--i haven't tried pesto yet but i am also inspired...but aren't you excited i made tzatkiki--i should have told you :) (or better yet invited you out)...

  4. Up next on the cooking exploration with be a tzatziki then...I have not made it but cucumbers are in season now so I will give it a try! Kevin - I am impressed by all your cooking!

  5. I made pesto tonight with your recipe and mixed it with some simple elbow noodles. Thanks for the inspiration! I used 2 types of basil (St. Michael and Sweet - I have it on the porch since it is great for decoration and useful), pistacios, and included the garlic. The St. Michael basil really kicks up the spiciness.