This week's Weekend Project
was inspired by one of our non-cooking Cooking District team members who was searching the site for a pesto recipe last week and was surprised to find that we had none in the archives. We've rectified that by adding a Classic Basil Pesto
recipe to the Cooking District Recipes
section, and decided that a quick tutorial was in order.
Classic Basil Pesto is made with basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese and usually garlic. But like any great original, that classic recipe is a great springboard for your interpretations. Switch out the basil for another herb or leafy green, swap out pine nuts for another nut, and even the Parm can be replaced with another hard tangy cheese. Think parsley, almonds and pecorino cheese; garlic scapes and cashews; cilantro and pumpkin seeds; walnuts and kale; arugula and pistachios. Basically, something green + nuts + cheese + olive oil = a most excellent sauce. You can tweak the amount of garlic to suit your taste, and also play around with the amount of olive oil until you get the consistency you like — thinner for a sauce, thicker for a spread.
What You Need
About 6 cups of greens
1/2 cup nuts or seeds
1/2 cup finely grated hard cheese
1-2 garlic cloves
dash of salt
1/4-1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Mortar and pestle
Mortar and Pestle Method
Smash the garlic and salt together in a mortar and pestle until they form a smooth paste.
Coarsely chop the greens, and add them to the mortar a small bunch at a time, pounding them into the garlic as you add them.
After you've got the greens and garlic well-mashed, start adding the olive oil, a spoonful at a time, pounding all the while, until everything is well mixed and incorporated.
Then pound in the cheese, followed by the nuts. Taste for seasoning and test for texture and make any needed additions.
Blender/ Food Processor Method:
Blend of pulse half of the greens, nuts, cheese and garlic. When they are finely chopped and combined, stop, scrape down the sides of the blender or bowl. Add the rest of the greens, nuts and cheese and pulse or blend until it resembles a smooth paste.
With the blender or processor running, stream in the olive oil and continue blending until the pesto looks uniform.
Taste for seasoning and test for texture and make any needed additions.