I’m sure you seen many recipes for pesto and have probably made some yourself. The recipe that I’m about to provide you is very basic and simple. All you need is about 5 ingredients and a food processor to do all the work for you. Pesto essentially means Italian sauce. Pesto originates from the Liguria region in Genoa, Italy. Traditional ingredients in pesto usually consist of basil, garlic, salt, pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. Some people may use walnuts or cashew nuts instead because they are generally cheaper than pine nuts. I didn’t add any nuts because of my hubby’s nut allergy and it truthfully came out too watery for my liking. I will include the options to use nuts. I don’t normally use cheese but that doesn’t mean you can’t. If you decide to use cheese, then omit the salt as most cheeses are naturally salty. Feel free to be adventurous. If I one day decide to make a dairy pesto spread, I may use feta or Bulgarian cheese. Sometimes I may use spinach leaves as well depending on my mood. I wasn’t introduced to pesto until I had some at a relative’s house a couple years ago. Since then, I’ve been stocking up on containers of pesto on a weekly basis. When I found out that pesto isn’t too difficult to make, I decided to give it a whirl and have learned to made all kinds of spreads from scratch. Not only is it cheaper to make your own but its healthier and tastier since you would be using fresh ingredients. Besides, buying something that is easy to make such as pesto is quite frankly, a cop-out. I’ve never really figured out what pesto can be used for. I will often use it as a spread on crackers or on a piece of bread. Others have used as a sauce for their pasta , chicken, or fish dishes.It can also be used a filling for rolls, or pizza . Like most spreads and dips, I suppose that pest is versatile enough to be used for anything.
For this recipe, you will need:
- 1 large bunch of basil leaves
- 1 large bunch of mint leaves
- 1 large bunch of fresh parsley w/o stems
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1/3 cup of pine nuts or walnuts (or cashew nuts)
- A couple of tablespoons of olive oil
- Lemon juice (for added freshness but optional)
- Salt and pepper for taste (if using cheese, minimize the salt)
Wash, rinse and dry the basil,mint, and parsley leaves. Once dried, chop them loosely. Using a food processor or a blender, chop nuts and garlic. If using cheese, add the cheese first. Then add all the leaves. As they are processing, drizzle some olive oil and a bit of lemon juice. Season with some salt and pepper. Continue to chop until it forms a thick, smooth paste. Store in a container and refrigerate up to a week.
Yields about 1 cup