When people think of “pesto”, they usually think of that green Italian sauce. It is delicious (on almost anything), that’s true. The type of pesto people usually think about is traditionally made with parmesan cheese, basil, pine nuts, and olive oil. You can find my favorite Traditional Basil Pesto Recipe HERE.
But PESTO refers to any sauce that was histortically made with a mortar and pestle. The word “pesto” comes from “pesta”, or “to pound”, referring to the original method of creating the sauce, by using a mortar and pestle. That means you can create a wide variety of “pesto” sauces, using some basic guidelines. Here in Italy, there are multiple variations of pesto. Follow the general guidelines below, and you can make ANY kind of pesto. Get creative. Find some delicious combinations. Impress your friends. Spice up your chicken, pork, and pasta dishes. Seriously. Pesto is incredibly easy to make, it’s healthy, and it adds freshness and flavor to your favorite dishes
- Choose a nut – any nut. Pistachio, pine nut, almond, pecan, walnut – whatever you want.
- Choose a herb – any herb (or leafy green for that matter). Basil, Oregano, arugula, spinach, sage – whatever.
- Get some GOOD QUALITY extra virgin olive oil. Italian only (says the food snob over here).
- Choose a sharp, hard cheese. I like parmesan and Grano Padano.
- Add garlic (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Throw this all in a food processor and pulse until it’s a paste. Add more olive oil if you want a thinner mixture.
- Voila! Done. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to one week. Serve with chicken, pork, pasta – as a salad dressing. Whatever you want!
*You can also get creative with other ingredients if you are feeling bold. I like to throw in some sundried tomatoes sometimes. If you’re doing a sage/rosemary blend, maybe you want to throw in some pureed pumpkin. Just get creative, have fun, and don’t be afraid to try new combinations!
*Also – if you are lactose intolerant, the cheese can be left out. It’s a different taste, but still delicious.