Traditional Pesto Made Easy
I love a good pesto sauce, in all of its zesty green glory! It is one of those fresh and delicious recipes that I like to whip up when I have sudden, unexpected house guests. It is extremely simple to make and gives off the impression that I have slaved in my kitchen all day. The fresh pesto ingredients are inexpensive and generally easy to find at any local grocery store.
To make things even more effortless, pesto can be made right in your favorite food processor. It takes minimal preparation and the fresh flavors of the pesto ingredients can’t be beat. The terrific thing about this recipe for pesto is just how flexible it can be. Traditionally pesto is made with fresh basil and pine nuts, but really any green herb and nut combination can be used. Here is a super simple recipe that will get you started on your pesto making journey. Try it and then experiment with your own flavors.
- 3 cups tightly packed basil leaves (do not forget to remove the stems)
- 1/4 cup grated hard cheese such as Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
- 1/4 cup lightly roasted pine nuts
- 1-3 garlic cloves, (to your taste)
- 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
- Attach the chopping blade to your food processor and add the pine nuts, garlic and olive oil to the container.
- Pulse this a few times until you have a grainy paste-like consistency (this should only take about 30 seconds). Then begin adding your basil leaves in through the feed tube in small batches and continue pulsing with several long pulses until you have a thick, smooth paste.
- Add in the grated cheese (see note below if you plan on freezing), lemon juice and salt to taste.
- Give it a few more long pulses to ensure everything is combined well.
Now this is just a very basic and traditional recipe for pesto but, as I mentioned above, the variations for different combinations is limited only by your culinary creativity and imagination!
If you are serving Mexican cuisine, you can try a cilantro, pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and lime pesto. Or what about a kale and walnut version? Kale and walnut lend itself beautifully to pasta dishes. I’ve also seen pistachio and mint combined into a fresh springtime sauce that is delicious on lamb burgers.
In general, pesto freezes really well so this is a great sauce to make ahead when all of your garden herbs are in abundance. If you do plan on freezing, I would recommend leaving the cheese out and not stirring it in until you are ready to serve. Cheese does not always freeze well.
What different pesto combinations have you made in your food processor? When is the last time you served pesto to your family and guests? I always enjoy getting ideas from my readers and would love to know how do you make pesto sauce at home?
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