Week 6: Pesto Chango
Happy (belated) Fourth of July everyone! We are in full-on summer mode and love all it has to offer - extra-long days, amazing thunderstorms (where are you rain??), and hydrating fruits and veggies. With the leafy greens on their way out, the first of the peppers and tomatillos have arrived (2019, Week 12 Tomatillo Salsa). And the tomatoes are getting close and will be here in about 1 to 2 weeks! So many folks ask, what should I do with all this basil?!? Easy answer – PESTO. Pesto makes the most of the short basil season before it bolts from the summer heat, and it is easy to preserve to keep summer in your meals all year long. Come along with us as we take a deep dive into all thing’s pesto.
The term ‘pesto’ originates from the Genoese word pestâ, which means to pound or to crush, matching its preparation method of mortar and pestle (noun also coming from the same Latin root). Although pesto is a generic term for anything made by pounding/crushing, its origin comes from Genoa, the capital city of Liguria, Italy. The most traditional form is called pesto alla Genovese (Genoese pesto) and consists of crushed garlic, European pine nuts, coarse salt, basil leaves, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Ligurian extra virgin olive oil. However, as with most recipes, there are endless modifications to utilize what’s on hand and in season. Pesto can be made with ANY green (for example basil, mint, spinach, kale, arugula, cilantro, parsley or seaweed); ANY nut (for example pine nuts, walnuts, pecans or almonds); and with cheese (for example Parmigiano-Reggiano, Parmesan, Pecorino, Asiago, Romano, Gruyere, or Cotija) or without. There are add-ins that kick it up a notch such as roasted red peppers and tomatoes. There are even variations without any greens that stretch it even farther outside the box. Play around with the ingredients until you find your favorite pesto combination!
Storing pesto is almost as easy as making it. Fresh pesto keeps in an air-tight container in the fridge for 1 week. You can also put a thin layer of olive oil on top to reduce the browning. It is also easily frozen in ice cube trays and moved into separate container to use whenever needed.
Use your pesto creations in whatever suits your fancy:
Dip with crostini/baguette or sliced veggies
Mix with pasta or rice
Spread on sandwiches and wraps
Use as a pizza sauce or topping
Marinade meat, chicken or fish prior to cooking
Use as a sauce on cooked meat, chicken, fish or veggies
Stir into a risotto
Brush on warm corn on the cob
Dollop in a bowl of soup
Add to any egg dish
Mix into a vinaigrette
Transform your recipes with a little Pesto Chango.
PESTO ALLA GENOVESE
1 large bunch of basil leaves, removed from stems and washed and dried thoroughly
4 cloves of garlic, peeled (sub with 4-6 garlic scapes)
1 tsp pine nuts
5 to 6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (preferably Liguarian)
¾ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano
¼ tsp fine sea salt
Place a few leaves of basil in a mortar. Add a clove of garlic and some salt. Crush the leaves and garlic against the sides of the mortar using the pestle. Add a few more leaves of basil, another garlic clove and some salt, and repeat the process. Once you have crushed all the basil, garlic and salt, add the pine nuts. Crush until well blended. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and combine with the ingredients in the mortar. Then add the cheese a little at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon. Then stir in some more oil, a tablespoon at a time. Your goal is to have a thick, creamy sauce. If you choose not to use all the oil, that is fine.
Place all the ingredients in a blender. Blend at high speed for 1 minute. Then lift the lid carefully and scrape the sides of the blender cup using a rubber spatula. Check the consistency of the pesto, which should be thick and creamy. Blend for a few more seconds if you think the pesto should be a bit thinner, but do not overdo it.
GARLIC SCAPE PESTO
EASY KALE PESTO
½ cup walnuts
1 garlic clove (or 1-2 scapes)
2 cups chopped kale leaves
2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus lemon zest, optional
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, more for a smoother pesto
¼ teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
freshly ground black pepper
grated Parmesan cheese, optional
Pulse the walnuts and garlic in a food processor. Add the kale and pulse again.
Add the lemon juice salt and pepper and pulse again.
While the blade is running, drizzle in the olive oil. Scrape the sides of the food processor, if necessary, and pulse again. For a smoother pesto, add more olive oil.
Season to taste. Pulse in grated parmesan cheese, if desired.
Notes: Makes 1 cup. If you want to incorporate the kale stems into your pesto, chop them and boil for 20 minutes, or until tender. Let cool slightly before adding to the food processor.
ROASTED BEET PESTO
1 cup red beets chopped and roasted (about 1 medium beet)
3 cloves garlic roughly chopped
½ cup walnuts roasted
½ cup Parmesan cheese grated
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Wash and scrub the beet and pat it dry. Peel and chop it into ½” cubes and place the pieces on a large sheet of foil. Wrap the chopped beet in foil, making a foil packet.
Place the packet on a baking sheet.
Roast in the oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until beets are soft and juices are seeping out.
Allow beets to cool completely.
Add all ingredients except for the oil to a food processor or blender and pulse several times.
Leaving the food processor (or blender) running, slowly add the olive oil until all ingredients are well combined. If the pesto is too thick for your blender to process, add a small amount of water until desired consistency is reached.
Notes: GO MAKE THIS NOW.
Check out this article (https://www.brit.co/pesto-recipes/) for 20 Game-Changing Twists on Traditional Pesto by Cortney Clift of Brit + Co