Pesto, it’s not just for basil anymore! By adding a variety of wild and cultivated plants, you can change this old favorite into something new and fabulous! I like to add pesto to a pasta or quinoa salad, to mayonnaise or aioli to change the flavor of a sandwich spread, as part of a summer soup warm or cold or alone on a good piece of crusty bread or cracker. You really are only limited by your imagination. The other bit of pesto greatness, it freezes well. I simply make my pesto, place in a small freezer container, cover with a thin skim of olive oil and freeze. When you thaw it, the flavor is as fresh as when you made it. You can also freeze it in an ice cube tray and pop out as you need. Here is my basic traditional pesto recipe and some suggestions to change it up. Enjoy!
Sweet Basil 2 cups of fresh leaves (Options; thai basil, peppermint, purslane, monarda fistulosa/bee balm, lemon balm, lamb’s quarter, spinach, parsley, nettles, dandelion-all leaves for each plant)
1/2 cup grated/shredded romano or parmesan cheese (feta, cheddar, manchego) * Vegan option can leave out and add nutritional yeast
1/2 cup olive oil (safflower, grapeseed or an infused oil of sage, rosemary or thyme)
1/3 cup of pine nuts (walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, cashews) * these do not have to be included for those with nut allergies
3-6 cloves of garlic (garlic scapes, garlic chives, garden chives)
1 tsp of lemon juice
In a food processor blend basil (other plant options), garlic and nuts. While the processor is running, drizzle in the oil and lemon juice. Add cheese at the end to just blend. Happy Summer all!