Pesto is most commonly associated with basil and pine nuts. Indeed that’s an amazing combination worth eating, however pesto comes in numerous flavors and while it might seem mysterious – it’s not. Pesto can be made from any number of fresh herbs, greens, nuts, seeds, and more. Rather than get stuck in a rut, use this endlessly adaptable pesto recipe to make the most of those fresh herbs and greens this spring.
Use any fresh herbs or combination that might be on hand and fresh. It’s also more than okay to use a mixture of greens and herbs. Think arugula and basil or kale and mint or spinach, oregano, and thyme – truly any combination that sounds delicious to you and is fresh and available.
Traditional pesto uses pine nuts, which tend to cost 2 arms and a leg these days. If you have a good, frugal source by all means use it. If pine nuts are a little much for your personal budget, feel free to substitute any nut that is more affordable. Seeds can also be used with stellar results – sunflower, pumpkin, even sesame. Even if the budget can afford pine nuts, switch up the nuts now and then for a different flavor that might even be tastier.
Pesto should not be canned but can easily be frozen. Simply put the pesto into freezer containers, leaving 1″ headspace and freeze. A small layer of oil can be drizzled over the top to prevent it from drying out before placing in the freezer. Simply thaw and use as desired all winter long. Check out this great idea for making pesto right in the jar and freezing it in small batches.
How to Use Pesto
Pesto is, of course, amazing on pasta but it’s also incredible mixed in with rice, slathered on meat and baked, mixed into soups and much more. Get creative and mix into most any grain or cooked vegetable, like boiled potatoes, for a kick of flavor. Try slathering in on bread for a tasty spread and honestly it makes a super tasty grilled cheese sandwich.
- 1/2 to 3/4 Cup Oil (Olive, Walnut, Almond, etc.)
- 3 Cups Fresh Herbs (or mix herbs and greens)
- 1/2 Cup Nuts or Seeds (Walnuts, Pine Nuts, Sunflower Seeds, etc.)
- 3 Garlic Cloves, peeled
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt (more or less to taste)
- Pinch of Ground Black Pepper (more or less to taste)
- 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese, optional
- Put 1/2 cup of olive oil and the remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree. If the pesto seems to thick drizzle in a little more oil as necessary to keep it moving well. The water content in the greens and herbs will determine how much additional may be needed.
I know there are some folks who don’t like to wing it and for those folks, check out these amazing pesto recipes:
- Basil Pesto with Garlic Scapes & Hazelnuts
- Bolted Arugula Pesto
- Dandelion Pesto
- Garlic Mustard Pesto
- Kale & Walnut Pesto
- Macadamia Nut Basil Pesto
- Radish Leaf Pesto
During the month of April try your hand at any pesto your heart desires. If you’ve done it before, join the conversation (either here in the comments or over at the Facebook group) and tell us about your methods. If you’ve never done it before, now’s your chance to give it a try and let us know how it turned it out. Don’t forget to tag your public social media posts with #fiercelydiy so we can all find each other and see how everyone’s projects are working out.
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