Eating Paste: Two Pestos

If you have been following along for a while, you probably recall my love for Mediterranean food.  It is marked by its simple, wholesome ingredients and freshness.  Pesto is a fine example of this concept.  The ingredients are few, yet the taste is green and robust.

Pesto simply means paste.  You can choose variations of the theme to suit your meal.  Here we offer up a traditional basil version and a more tex-mex cilantro version.  I used sunflower kernels in the cilantro version for variety.  You can use just about any nut that you like.  The idea is to add some body and flavor. Experiment with different nuts and herbs.  I must say that the cilantro version is significantly less expensive to make.  Cilantro can be found in the supermarket for a fraction of the price of basil.  Of course, if you are growing basil in your garden you avoid that pitfall.  Additionally, sunflower kernels offer the same savings over pine nuts.

Once you try your hand at pesto it is sure to become one of your "go to" recipes in a pinch.  It takes only minutes to prepare for a delicious addition to almost any meal.

savour... green goodness

Get the rest after the jump...

Two Pestos

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Before you start:

Pesto can be used on pasta, rice, even crostini or bruschetta.  You might even choose to use it as a sandwich spread.

I keep two olive oils in my pantry.  One is for cooking and one (the greener, darker one) is for salad dressings and such.  Use the latter for your pestos.

Basil Pesto

The ingredients:

3 tablespoons pine nuts

3 tablespoons walnuts

2 cloves garlic

3 cups basil (I used some sweet basil and some spicy globe basil)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup good extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

The method:

  1. In a food processor, grind nuts and garlic for about 20 seconds.
  2. Add basil, salt, and pepper.  Chop again until basil is finely chopped.
  3. While food processor is still going slowly pour in olive oil until paste begins to form.
  4. Add parmesan cheese.  Give just a few more pulses to incorporate.
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Cilantro Pesto

The ingredients:

5 tablespoons unsalted sunflower kernels

1 clove garlic

3 cups cilantro leaves

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup good extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon lime zest

The method:

  1. In a food processor, grind sunflower kernels and garlic for about 20 seconds.
  2. Add cilantro, lime zest, salt, and pepper.  Chop again until cilantro is finely chopped.
  3. While food processor is still going slowly pour in olive oil until paste begins to form.
  4. Add parmesan cheese.  Give just a few more pulses to incorporate.
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sweet basil blossom