With the abundance of beautiful fresh herbs and greens currently in our CSA boxes and at the farmer’s markets it can be a little overwhelming to know what to do with it all. Look no further than pesto.
Pesto is so versatile; ingredients can be changed to what you have on hand. It can also be used in so many creative ways other than the classic pesto pasta! We wanted to share some general tips for making pesto and a few suggestions of how it can be used so let your imagination run wild.
Pesto doesn’t have to be made with basil, it works with whatever herbs you have as long as they aren’t woody herbs such as rosemary or thyme. Try using mint, parsley, cilantro, garlic scapes or green veggies: arugula, kale or spinach. A note on nuts: pine nuts are traditionally used in pesto, but other nuts work just as well. We like using walnuts, sunflower seeds and pepitas. Almonds, cashews and pecans are also great choices.
Pesto is quick and easy to make in a food processor, it keeps for about a week in the fridge but if you make large batches, it can also be frozen in individual portions using ice cube trays allowing you to enjoy fresh pesto and the taste of summer any time of the year!
Classic Pesto Recipe – Makes 1 Cup
4 cups (about 3 large bunches) fresh basil Leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup Pine Nuts
2 Cloves Garlic, peeled
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1 tsp coarse kosher salt
Combine first 4 ingredients in blender/food processor. Blend until paste forms, stopping often to push down sides. Add both cheese and salt, blend until smooth. Transfer to small bowl.
Pesto and pasta go hand in hand but there are so many other wonderful ways to use pesto. Add it to grilled meats, seafood and fish after grilled for a fresh vibrant taste, it works really well with the smokey flavors of the grill. A spoonful of pesto adds a punch to a light summer soup, use as a topping on bread or pizza. Swirl into mashed potatoes or drizzle on roasted or grilled vegetables.
Be creative and have fun with it!