Monday, February 14, 2011

Basic Pesto Recipe

Our oldest sister, Kathi, introduced me to this recipe. My friend's are always asking me for this recipe. It's different from most pesto recipes because we don't use pine nuts. Instead we use almonds, walnuts, or pecans. We don't even use Parmesan cheese - although one of these days I'm going to try this recipe with Parmesan cheese. I'm sure it would be delicious with it. It's funny that Kathi was the one who taught me how to make pesto because whenever she asks me for ideas for dinner and I suggest pesto she says that she hates making pesto and then asks what other ideas I have. To her it's a pain in the neck to make(because of having to use the food processor) and to me it couldn't be easier. It's my I'm-Being-Lazy-Tonight dinner. Especially since it's usually already made ahead of time and waiting for me in the fridge. But Kathi and I always have different ideas of what are easy dinners and what aren't, so it's no surprise that we disagree on pesto.

Here's our pesto recipe. Sort of. Because there isn't really a recipe. It's just basil, nuts, salt, and garlic and mix it all together in the food processor. That's it. I even stopped putting in olive oil, although Kathi, Sarah, and my mom all still use olive oil. I found that the olive oil is not always necessary. It depends on what you're using it for. But that's just me. By all means, add olive oil. Really add whatever you want. That's the beauty of pesto. It all works. One time I forgot the garlic. I brought it to a potluck and everyone loved it and only that night as I was trying to fall asleep did I realize. But everyone still loved it. Which is why I feel really weird writing an actual recipe for this pesto, because it's an anything goes recipe. You really can't mess it up. My pesto never has the same proportions and it is always a hit. Trust me.

So here is my attempt at writing out the proportions. If this looks too dry for you, then use less nuts, or add olive oil. As much as your heart desires. Oh, also, sometimes the top of the pesto turns brown and other times it doesn't. I have no idea what makes it brown. My mom always told me that the olive oil is what keeps it green, but I have found that the olive oil plays no part in what color my pesto ends up being. Does anyone know why it turns brown? Kathi's theory is that it has to do with the freshness of the basil. The fresher it is, the greener it stays. But anyway, if yours turns brown don't worry. The brown doesn't affect the taste once you've mixed it together with the green part. Or just take the top layer off it bothers you. Or Kathi claims that if you're storing it then a layer of olive oil really does protect it from the air.

Basic Pesto Recipe

1 big package basil - 4 ounces
3/4 cup nuts (almonds, walnuts, or pecans)
1 tablespoon salt
2 cloves garlic
olive oil - optional

Put the basil, nuts, salt, and garlic in the food processor. Pulse. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. If you are adding olive oil, slowly add the olive oil to the mixture. Continue blending in the food processor until it has become the desired consistency (a thick, smooth paste).

This recipe is good as is. It is also delicious mixed with other ingredients, such as feta cheese or sun dried tomatoes.  And I discovered yesterday that it tastes like it was made in a really fancy restaurant when it is mixed with mascarpone cheese. The possibilities are endless. I hear it might be really good mixed with Syrian cuisine as well.

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