Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pesto Extravaganza


Fresh herbs ... check.
Nuts ... check.
Food processor ... check.

Well, then it must be time for a pesto making extravaganza.

It's a banner year for herbs in my garden and one of my favorite ways to preserve that fresh herb taste is to make pesto - all kinds of pesto. I use my classic basil pesto recipe as the general guide for all the various variations. I just swap the herb, nuts and, sometimes, even the cheese.

My first planting of cilantro was beginning to go to seed, so I cut as much as I could and I am letting the rest do what it does. My second planting of cilantro should be ready in a couple of weeks.


I wasn't sure what nut variation to do but decided on almonds mainly because I have a ton of them in the pantry. And, I thought toasting them would lend a nice flavor.


Cilantro Almond Pesto
Makes enough for 1 lb. of pasta

Ingredients
  • 2 cups fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup toasted, chopped almonds
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
  1. In a food processor add the cilantro leaves and toasted almonds.
  2. Roughly chop the garlic cloves and add to the food processor.
  3. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, put on the lid and start the food processor.
  4. With the food processor on, stream in the extra virgin olive oil.
  5. When the mixture appears well incorporated, turn off the food processor and pour the pesto into a medium sized bowl.
  6. Stir in the parmesan cheese.
Then, it was on to the next batch.


This time I went for the parsley.


And, I substituted in walnuts and pecorino romano cheese.


Parsley Walnut Pesto
Makes enough for 1 lb. of pasta

Ingredients
  • 2 cups fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
  1. In a food processor add the parsley leaves and walnuts.
  2. Roughly chop the garlic cloves and add to the food processor.
  3. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, put on the lid and start the food processor.
  4. With the food processor on, stream in the extra virgin olive oil.
  5. When the mixture appears well incorporated, turn off the food processor and pour the pesto into a medium sized bowl.
  6. Stir in the pecorino romano cheese.
Pesto Storage Tip

When I'm on a pesto-making mission, I prefer to freeze as much as I can for later. However, like most folks, I have a limited amount of freezer space. So, even though I know plastic isn't an ideal storage vessel, in this instance, I do use it.


I place a pint-sized plastic bag into a pint glass, folding the zipper edge of the bag over the rim of the glass. I scoop all the pesto goodness into the bag, close it up tightly, very carefully removing any air.


I lay the baggies flat in the freezer. Once the pesto is frozen solid I gather all the baggies and can easily store them upright in the freezer door.
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