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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Best Pesto You'll Ever Have

A few years ago, Alex made pesto for dinner from scratch. Until then, we'd only had pesto from a jar, which was dark green and tasty. But this homemade pesto took it to the next level. We couldn't believe how bright and vibrant it was, and it tasted like we were eating basil right out of the garden. So I'm thrilled that Kelly from The Best Remedy is sharing her favorite recipe (and it's easy!)...
The Best Pesto You'll Ever Have
By Kelly Carámbula of The Best Remedy (formerly Eat Make Read) and the food magazine Remedy Quarterly


Fresh pesto is bright, bold and easy to boot. Once you know the basics of pesto, you can make simple substitutions to mix things up and continue getting fresh flavors throughout the year.

Recipe: Pesto
Makes approx. 1 cup

You'll need:
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 cups fresh basil leaves, washed and patted dry
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
2 garlic cloves
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp. olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350°. Toast the pine nuts on a baking sheet for 3 to 4 minutes—watch closely, you just want them to get golden, not brown. This will bring out their flavor, giving the pesto a more robust flavor.

With your pine nuts toasted and cooled, it's time to whip up this pesto—it's a snap, I promise. In the bowl of your food processor, combine the basil leaves, parmesan cheese, garlic cloves and salt. Process for about 10 seconds, then slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. That's it!

Now all you have to decide is what to do with it.

Toss it with pasta: I prefer spaghetti or linguini with pesto, but use whatever shape you like. Reserve some of the pasta water and add a little of it to the pesto when you toss it—this will help the pesto incorporate throughout the pasta.

Risotto: This is great for cooler months. Just stir the pesto into the risotto before serving.

Crostini: Go the super simple route and simply spread the pesto over a piece of toast. Or get a touch fancier and combine the pesto with a little ricotta, spread it over toast and sprinkle with a touch of sea salt. Delicious!

Once you've got the basic recipe down, go ahead and experiment. Pesto is a balance of greens/nuts/oil/garlic/cheese. Try experimenting with some of those things.

Instead of basil, try:
1 cup chives for a more oniony flavor
A handful of ramps (about 10) for a spring pesto

Instead of pine nuts, try:
toasted walnuts
slivered almonds

Here are a few other versions I've tried: mint + poblano pesto, walnut pesto, ramp pesto
Delicious! Thanks, Kelly!

P.S. More best recipes, including hummus and apple pie...

(Photos and recipe by By Kelly Carámbula of The Best Remedy and the food magazine Remedy Quarterly. Thanks to Shoko for helping with this series)

51 comments:

ale norris said...

pesto is one of my favorite things to make, and i'm pretty sure that's what i'm putting on the table tonight!
-ale

Lauren Knight said...

There is nothing better! We have a huge basil plant that will soon be nipped by the crisp fall mornings, so I think I'll be putting it to use this evening... thanks again for the inspiration, as usual! Lovely pictures, too!

Kate Harvey said...

I love making homemade basil pesto! In the past I've substituted arugula for the basil, which makes for a slightly more bitter pesto. Good for the winter months!

Kate
Something Ivory

mamalooks said...

Thanks for the recipe! I have a new basil plant, and I have been thinking of what to do with it...

emelsealoving said...

I had pesto for the first time the other day, and I love it! this could be step 2 on the pesto questo :)

Sarah Tucker said...

I can't wait to try the recipe! It looks delicious :)

-Sarah {tuckerup.blogspot.com}

Simone said...

I love green pesto - isn't homemade so much tastier!!? Once you've done it, you'll never want to buy it in a jar again :)

That's Not My Age said...

I'm so lazy I always buy a jar - but fresh homemade pesto tastes so much better.

Anitra Sweet said...

Love Pesto!!!! One thing we do around our house is make up three to four batches and freeze them in little ice cube trays. Then when they're frozen you can pop them out and put them in a ziplock bag in the freezer. It's so easy to just take one or two out for a small serving or a bunch for a big meal! Try it, you'll thank me :)

Alexandra said...

I love making pesto! I use walnuts instead of pine nuts because they're so much cheaper and at the rate I go through pesto, those costs add up! I honestly make about a batch a week. I just keep it on hand to turn whatever other ingredients I have into a meal.

One of my favorite things to do is use it as a sauce/spread for home-made pizza. Some lavash bread, pesto, whatever veggies I have on hand, and a yummy cheese turns into a meal in 15 minutes max. LOVE.

Not gonna lie, sometimes I just eat a scoop of pesto by itself. Yup.

isabel said...

mmmm as a big pesto lover i will try this too

www.mamajulesbrussels.blogspot.com

Ann said...

My mouth is watering. Literally.

perfumehk said...

so nice blog its lovely . . . ]
Parfum pas cher

Meredith said...

Haha, I recently made a pesto with basil from my garden to go on top of flank steak. It was so, so good, but it looked like the green slime from "You Can't Do That on Television" (ah, Nickelodeon youth...). It's funny how you get used to a mass-produced variety, and then the "real" stuff can look fake!

Living Notes from NYC said...

We do from scratch all the time! Isn't it the best?! Oh, and if you can make it to some sort of a fair in Westchester or Conneticut ( or NJ even), they sell a "salsa maker" for $20. Handheld device that is SO. EASY. TO. CLEAN. We got one YEAAAAARS ago and I love it - highly recommend. So much easier then a processor.

www.livingnotesfromnyc.com

francy said...

Veeeery good, this is THE recipe! Don't forget: spaghetti/linguini must be "al dente"!
Francesca from Genova ;)

nazli said...

Oh I want to try this!!

J+H @ Beyond The Stoop said...

we make pesto in big batches, then freeze them in ice cube trays so we can save it for later (without thawing ALL of it at once). it's SUCH a nice thing to have hanging out in the freezer for whenever you want to eat it. i recently threw a bit into some cauliflower puree (sooo good!) and we sometimes eat it with roasted zucchini and squash rings!

here's our version:
www.beyondthestoop.com/2011/12/presto-pesto.html

cheers :)

Panda Head said...

pesto is THE BEST! this summer we were throwing anything GREEN into the blender alongside basil - mint was a favorite, and a dill-mint-basil combo was sooo good with whole wheat pasta and fresh, chopped tomatoes.

thalassamov said...

Love pesto in most forms-every green is welcome!
Started doing my own pesto after reading "cream" in the ingredients of a very famous brand pesto here in E.U. Thousand times better,plus u know what u eat. :)))))))))))))
Thanks for sharing this receipe with us!

Sip-n-Snap said...

Love keeping pesto as a staple in my fridge, I'll try this one as well

Christy said...

One of my favorite things, and an upcoming post on my own blog :) I like to use toasted walnuts and throw in cherry tomatoes for a little something extra.

urbanrhetoric said...

this might sound cray but i like to make 'pesto' with my leftover asparagus. actually, it ends up being more like an asparagus dip but i use it in the same way as pesto. now i'm getting hungry.

~pemora

Anna Alter said...

This looks like a great recipe! I'm curious, is there a secret to washing the basil leaves without loosing the flavor? I usually put them in a salad spinner, but often the pesto doesn't taste as good as when I use them dry.

fawn said...

To Italianize it, chop by hand and double the oil. :)

cate brenton said...

I love mixing up the greens/ nuts/ cheese combos for variations on this theme. I've even found a secret ingredient that seems to work with every flavor profile: the zest of a lemon! It keeps any pesto as bright as the first day of spring, even when it's closer to October.

Designology Interiors said...

I just posted about pesto too. I pulled it all our of the garden and made a big batch to freeze and enjoy all winter. We'll see how long it lasts though. ;)

http://designologyinteriors.blogspot.com/

Jaimie said...

Yum, homemade pesto is one of my favorite foods! This recipe is very similar to the one I use, except that I add a little bit of ground black pepper. I also sometimes substitute walnuts for pine nuts since I almost always have them on hand. Basil is an easy thing to grow for a beginner gardener too :)

Justin + Liesl said...

YAY!!! I'm always a pesto out of the jar cook. So glad to see this and it looks so easy! Thanks for the post! Going home to make it....

xoxo
Liesl

woodsy-soiree.blogspot.com

Milynn {Love + Whimsy} said...

Thank you for sharing this recipe! I've been itchin' to make some homemade pesto (I want to put it over some gnocchi for lunch).

I enjoy making my own, but I have to admit that I haven't made the traditional basil pesto yet :X. I've only been making roasted red pepper pesto so far. recipe

Chez Denise et Laudalino said...

Love having some pesto on hand for last minute dinners. Just made up a batch of Kale and Pistachio - outstanding! Not only on pasta but also smeared over fish and meat before cooking and in place of butter on bread.

Denise | Chez Us

http://chezus.com/2012/09/20/kale-pistachio-pesto-2/ (in case you want to check it out). :)

Maria Matiopoulou said...

I have to try this! I was looking for a similar recipe :) Thanks for sharing!

Maria

http://www.unidentifiedlifestyle.com

champlittle said...

Secret for keeping pesto vibrantly green: blanch the basil before blending. No more brown pesto!

SaraSherrell.com said...

Oh how I do love pesto! So yummy! Thanks for the recipe.

Fabianna (H.Finn Jewelry) said...

Definitely going to try this recipe out! It seems so simple and tasty!

Robyn said...

love pesto-simple and amazing

Dana DeVolk said...

So easy yet delicious! I need to make this soon.

<3 Dana @ This Silly Girl's Life

Unknown said...

Truly, the best pesto is made with garlic scapes. Assuming you like garlic, of course. Keep an eye out for these mysterious, curly-cued shoots next spring/summer. You'll never go back.

Shannon said...

Oh yum! This looks so super tasty.
http://shannonhearts.blogspot.com/

Rebekah Daphne said...

This is very nice! I used walnuts in place of pine nuts, and doubled the olive oil. At the end I thought it needed a little something-something, so I added plenty of black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice. Perfect.

Kathryn Humphreys said...

We've started making pesto with arugula or kale and its fabulous. Such a nice green flavor and my kids like it better than the sharper basil.

Amos said...

I love these posts. I make Deb's "Best Egg Sandwich" about once a week, and it gets rave reviews from my tummy each and every time. Since Alex is the cook in your family, I'd love to hear his favorite 'go-to' recipe!

Sarah Jane said...

i love pesto, so i'm taking this recipe!

Renee Sandoval said...

This looks absolutely delicious! I make a salmon pesto pasta, and I definitely want to try out this recipe next time.

laura_doval said...

You should take a look also at Heidi Swanson's recipe at 101cookbooks.com, it's awesome and comes from an Italian grandmother!

ajay said...

great post
...........

melanie said...

i can't make pesto without lemon juice! brightens it up even more! and if you're in a pinch and don't have any nuts, saltines/crackers work great! they help bind it. pesto is one of my FAVORITE things! (i've made it with an immersion blender in a bowl as well - i try to limit getting out the food processor)

Ilse van den Hoven said...

Have you every made your own mayonaise? Fun to make it together and soooo tasteful!

Unknown said...

You can also try with a bit of rocket leaves. It's delicious!

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