I don't know why, but pesto is addictive. Don't say I didn't warn you! Excuse me, I need a hummus pesto sandwich RIGHT NOW!
Total Prep and Cook Time: 45 minutes
16 servings, or 2 cups, which may seem like a lot, but NOT when you have to share!
Nutrition Data, 39 g Serving: 165 Cal, 147 calories from fat, 17g Fat, 2g Carb, 126mg Sodium, 1g Fiber, 3g Protein, low cholesterol, high in Vit K. Estimated glycemic load 0
If you don't grow basil, the large amount needed for pesto (the leaves of 2 - 3 full grown plants) can be found at farmers markets, or somebody's garden. For a pesto addict, all basil growers are your best friends.
Fresh herbs, especially basil, aren't Good Keepers - the least time between picking and pestoing, the better.
Mark Bittman, in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, recommends blanching basil leaves by plunging them in boiling water, then immediately in cold water, to preserve the green color of the basil, which oxidizes and turns dark quickly when chopped.
Blanching is a good idea if you want a pure basil pesto. Instead of blanching basil, we add parsley, which maintains it's bright green color.
Purists say you must make pesto in a mortar and pestle for full authentic flavor. Do that if you have the time and patience. I'm not that discriminating, and can't wait that long for my pesto!
Pine nuts can be very expensive, but much cheaper walnuts work well in pesto. Soak them for a few hours or overnight to soften, and remove the bitter after taste and dark color. Discard the soaking water and rinse.
When you add the pesto to hot pasta, oil the pasta first. You may need to thin the pesto with a bit of the pasta cooking water.
Pesto keeps well tightly covered, in the fridge, for up to a week, and it also freezes well - cover with a thin firm of oil to preserve the color. For a vegan pesto, omit the cheese, and add more nuts.
Besides being the ideal companion for pasta, pesto has many other uses, such as the hummus pesto sandwich I mentioned, or combined with sour cream as a dip, spread on crackers, thinned with a little oil and lemon as a dressing for salad or steamed veggies, spread on a hot baked potato, as a pizza toppping etc. etc....
Your comments & questions help improve our recipes, so don't be shy! Contact Us