Pesto means "pounded" in Italian and while basil pesto is the classic, almost anything can be made into a pounded paste. Simply follow the basic recipe and substitute any other appropriate ingredients for basil, parmesan or pine nuts. Keep the quantities roughly the same.
Uses for pesto are many and varied - as a dip for crackers, bread or vegetables, spread on sandwiches, tossed through pasta as a sauce, thinned down with a little extra olive oil to form a salad dressing, or simply dolloped on fresh or roasted tomatoes.
This recipe makes 1 cup.
- Remove basil leaves from stems.
- Place basil and garlic cloves in the bowl of a food processor. (Note: if you do not own a food processor, pesto can easily be made by pounding with a pestle and mortar.)
- Pulse to chop, then add grated parmesan and pine nuts and blend to a pulp.
- With the motor running, drizzle in olive oil, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl, then continue processing to form a smooth paste.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, then cover with a little oil. This will keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.
- To keep pesto from discolouring, cover with a thin film of olive oil.
- Try using different herbs - parsley, mint, coriander or rocket all make great pesto.
- Omit the parmesan for a lighter mix, or for anyone who is allergic to dairy.