Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fresh Pesto Recipe

Contrary to popular belief, pesto does not only refer to the garlicky, basil sauce typically tossed with pasta.  Literally, pesto means paste, and can be used to describe any kind of herb or vegetable concoction that has been made into a paste with the handy help of olive oil (and a food processor).  Aside from basil, other pestos regularly seen on menus in Italian restaurants are cilantro, sun-dried (or fresh) tomato, and arugula.  More unusual versions of this classic Italian herb blend include mint, tarragon, parsley, spinach, or pine nut pestos.

Try the recipe below using any of the aforementioned herbs.  You can even experiment with different combinations of herbs for a truly out-of-the-box sauce (i.e.: basil, arugula, and mint pesto, or spinach, pine nut, and cilantro pesto). 

-1 large bushel of herbs (or combination of herbs)
-1/2 a cup of olive oil (more if you prefer a looser textured pesto)
-A handful of chopped nuts (pine nuts, almonds, or walnuts)
-Anywhere from 2-5 cloves of garlic (depending on how much of a garlic lover you are)
-Salt and pepper to taste
-Optional additions to alter the pesto’s tart/sweet/savory flavor profile to suit your liking: a generous squeeze of lemon or lime, a drizzle of honey, a few tablespoons of grated parmigiano-reggiano

1. Wash and dry herbs; remove edible leaves from stem

2. Peel garlic cloves and give them a rough chop

3. Add de-stemmed herbs, garlic, olive oil, and nuts to food processor (although a food processor is easiest, an immersion blender, or even a mortar and pestle will work)

4. Taste and season as desired with salt, pepper, or any of the optional additions

Pesto can last for weeks if refrigerated.  If you plan on using it all within a short time-period, store in the refrigerator.  If not, transfer some of the pesto to a freeze-safe container and place in your freezer. 

Uses: Dollop onto linguini with shrimp, slather onto a fresh baguette with mozzarella, or even add to olive oil and vinegar for an herby salad dressing.

By Sarah Telzak


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