Pesto is one of those foods that every home cook should know how to make. It's quick, easy, tasty, versatile and impressive. Well, at least impressive to your family and friends who don't know how easy it really is to make. Once you know the basic method of making pesto, you can get really creative with the variety of herbs or greens and nuts you use to make different flavors.
This recipe for basil pesto happens to be my personal favorite. It also happens to be vegan, simply because I prefer to make my pestos without Parmesan cheese. The first few times I ever had pesto, I thought it was okay, but kind of strong. Yet I loved the way it smelled and always wanted to love it more. Then one day I tried pesto my friend's homemade pesto and I was won over. Her secret? No Parmesan cheese! I started making my pesto without Parmesan cheese, too, and haven't turned back since. I think I just find the basil and Parmesan are just two very strong flavors and the way the compete with each other in traditional pesto just doesn't appeal to me, although I adore both of these ingredients separately. Anyway, if you normally aren't crazy about pesto maybe give this vegan variation a try and see if it doesn't win you over.
Once you make homemade pesto a few times, you won't need to measure ingredients anymore.. you'll just pull the ingredients together in your food processor, give it a whirl and have perfect pesto every time.
2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves
2 cups tightly packed fresh parsley leaves
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup pecan pieces
olive oil [1/3 to 1/2 cup]
kosher salt [1/2 to 1 teaspoon]
1. Add the basil, parsley, garlic and pecans into the bowl of your food processor and process it until finely chopped.
|Add basil, parsley, garlic and pecans|
to food processor bowl
|Process until finely chopped.|
|Add olive oil and process until|
pesto is smooth.
4. Use the pesto immediately in your favorite pesto recipe.
5. Store any left over pesto in a clean glass jar in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for long term storage.
For best flavor, store pesto in a clean glass jar with a tightly fitting lid. Drizzle olive oil over the surface of the pesto until it is covered. This will help prevent the basil from oxidizing and turning a darker color. For best flavor, consistency and presentation, pesto should be used within a few days, although I have stored it a bit longer without any problems. It's a good idea to freeze whatever pesto you don't use within a few days.
This pesto freezes well. Again, store pesto in small, clean glass jars with tightly fitting lids and drizzle olive oil over the top until the surface of the pesto is covered with oil. It's also nice to freeze pesto in ice cube trays and then transfer the pesto cubes to freezer safe bags. Then when you need just need a tablespoon or two of pesto, it's at the ready. For best results use within 6 months, but I have used frozen pesto within 12 months.
How to use pesto:
+use as a sauce for pasta or gnocchi, diluting it a bit with the cooking water used to boil the pasta or gnocchi.
+use in a cream sauce for pasta--especially delicious with seafood.
+as a base on pizza instead of tomato sauce. See HERE.
+as a dip or spread on slices of rustic bread as an appetizer
+add a teaspoon or two to bowls of soup before serving.
+dot on top of tomato halves and roast
+as a spread on your favorite hot or cold sandwich
+drizzle over roasted vegetables such as eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, potatoes, etc.
Do you like pesto? How do you use it?
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