Thursday, July 9, 2009

Homemade Pesto

I’m hesitant to share this recipe because it’s one of my specialties – one of the things I make that always really impresses people. Maybe they don’t realize how easy it is to make, or that they could go online and find all kinds of great pesto recipes in seconds. Anyway, I guess I’ll go ahead and share.

Pesto is easily found at the grocery store, but the homemade stuff is pretty hard to beat. And if you don’t make it yourself, you miss out on the wonderful aromas of fresh basil and garlic.

There are all kinds of pesto variations with ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes, olives, cilantro, parsley, walnuts, lemon zest, and so on. Mine is a traditional basil pesto. Try it, then feel free to experiment with whatever sounds good to you. You can use a food processor as I usually do; crush and mix the ingredients the old-fashioned way, with a mortar and pestle; or simply chop everything up and toss it all together with your pasta.

I often make this with pepitas (pumpkin seeds) instead of pine nuts because of my son’s nut allergy. If you were at our spaghetti dinner in Minnesota, that pesto was made with pepitas.


6 oz bunch of fresh basil - remove leaves, and discard stems
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup raw pine nuts (pignolias) or pumpkin seeds (pepitas) – toast in a skillet until fragrant and just beginning to brown
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp shredded Romano cheese

12 oz dry pasta – prepare according to package directions

Combine the pesto ingredients in a food processor and blend into a smooth paste. Toss with the pasta and sprinkle with a little extra grated cheese and maybe some coarsely chopped, toasted nuts or seeds.

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