Monday, February 7, 2011

Recipe: Pesto, Pesto Everywhere

Non-standard Pesto recipes will extend your culinary repertoire

image from
Now something a little lighter than the last post… Did you know that Basil Pesto, although by far the most common, is only one of the many varied forms that pesto can take? This is an important fact, especially when you live in a climate where for most of the year the cost of basil renders making pesto prohibitive.

The strict definition of pesto, from is:
"An uncooked sauce made with fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan or pecorino cheese and olive oil. The ingredients can either be crushed with mortar and pestle or finely chopped with a food processor. This classic, fresh-tasting sauce originated in Genoa, Italy, and although used on a variety of dishes, it is a favorite with pasta. Now there are "pestos" made from myriad other ingredients from cilantro to mint."

black olive sage pesto
So what can we gather from that? Essentially pesto, in it's most dissected form, is a combination of herb/vegetable, nuts, garlic, oil and cheese. So if you think about it, with creativity the combinations can be limitless.

Here's some non-standard recipes to tuck under your hat:

Arugula Pesto
2 cups arugula
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 cloves garlic
¾ cup of toasted walnuts pieces
¾ cup of crumbled gorgonzola
½ cup golden raisins
3-5 tbsp Olive Oil for Pesto
Salt & Pepper

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto
sun dried tomato pesto

1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup grated Grana Padano Parmesan cheese
1 small bunch parsley
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
(Hmm, no garlic. I would add some…)

Olive Pesto
1-1/2 cups green olives (pitted, with no pimento)
1/4 cup Pine nuts
2-3 Garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 small Onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup Olive oil

Spinach Pecan Pesto
spinach pecan pesto on tilapia
3 cups baby spinach leaves, packed, about 3 ounces
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pecan halves
1/3 cup fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
2 medium cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Pesto Calabrese
2 fresh whole red peppers, blanched and skin removed
1 cup of Ricotta cheese
½ cup of Grated Pecorino
½ cup or grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano
½ tsp of crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
2-3 tablespoons of Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

It took me about 15 minutes to find this diverse set of recipes. If you look at the ingredients, you start to see a pattern.

Be creative. Try your own combination. If you do let me know.

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