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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Easy Pesto!

Vera and I made pesto a couple weekends ago... a lot of pesto!

Here's our simple recipe:

1/3 cups of nuts*
roughly 3 cups of basil
the zest of one lemon
2-5 cloves of fresh garlic (your preference)
1/2 cup of hard grated cheese*
1/2 cup-ish of good quality olive oil 

blend in a food processor or blender until you have a beautiful green sauce.  You might need more or less olive oil depending on the actual amount of basil you use.

*Pesto is great because you can really play around with the ingredients.  Pinenuts are the traditional nut used in this sauce but they are ridiculously expensive - even at Trader Joe's so Vera and I made a couple batches with almonds and a couple with walnuts both turned out amazing!  Personally I'm not a huge fan of walnuts but the walnut pesto was really my favorite.  

We also used grated parmesan in a couple batches and pecorino romano with the walnuts - it was fun to see how all the flavors paired together.  We made 4 total different batches - one walnut, one walnut extra garlic (both walnut batches used pecorino romano cheese), one almond, and one almond extra garlic (both almond batches used parmesan cheese).  From each batch we averaged about 4 portions of sauce which really covers a full bag of pasta - so we have A LOT of pesto!!  Thankfully it freezes really well.

*fun fact - you can't can pesto sauce due to the lack of acid in the sauce.  Vera did her research!  So we decided using ziplock freezer containers would be the best way to go - originally we wanted to can the sauce so we could give it as gifts but it just didn't work out like that.  However, the sauce can be defrosted slowly and can be in a refrigerator state for about a week before the sauce would spoil.  Also you will notice its not quite as bright green after being in the freezer as when it came out of the food processor but the taste is still amazing!!

Other ideas for pesto ingredients:: cilantro, spinach, or mint... the options are limitless!

This isn't a fantastic photo - but the other night I was looking for a quick dinner so I grabbed some of my frozen gnocchi and set a container of my pesto in some warm water to thaw quickly (I only used about 1/3 of the container and re-froze the rest).  The frozen gnocchi just need to be boiled for about 5 minutes (once it floats - it's done!).  Tossed the gnocchi in the pesto and sprinkled a bit of parm on top - perfect dinner in about 15 minutes!!

Pesto really is super easy to make wether you grow your own basil or just pick some up at the farmers market - there's just something incredible about this sauce!  I'm in love with it!!

Ooh and it's not just for pasta...
*Use it as a marinade/cooking sauce for chicken
*dipping sauce for crusty gluten free bread
*Mix-in for hummus
*sauce/relish for a sandwich
*sauce on pizza
*marinade for shrimp
*add to mashed potatoes or cauliflower 
*salad dressing

Anything really!

Enjoy!! :)

Always, J