Basil pesto is a wonderful staple to have on hand. You can use it to coat freshly cooked pasta, it can be used as a spread in a sandwich, as a dip, to marinade foods, or dolloped into soups.
Pesto originates from Genoa in Italy and the name is based on the Genoese word pestâ which means to pound. The dish was born as a variation of the ancient Roman dish moretum, which was an ancient soft cheese and herb spread, and was adapted by the people of Genoa to become the pesto we know today. Traditionally pesto is a combination of basil, pine nuts, grated hard cheese such as parmesan or pecorino, crushed garlic and olive oil however you can easily come up with your own adaptions.
When I make a batch of pesto I like to make a large batch and then divide it between individual zip lock bags and freeze it. That way I have fresh pesto on hand whenever I need it.
For my pesto I start with a basil base and use whatever nuts I have on hand, in this instance I used a combination of walnuts, pine nuts and cashews. I also added roasted the garlic to give it a creamy sweetness rather than the harsh bite raw garlic can often have and finally added parmesan. You can come up with your own combinations to suit your taste.
What are your favourite pesto combinations?
6 packed cups of basil leaves or about 4 bunches of basil
1/4 cup of walnuts
1/4 cup of cashews
1/4 cup of pine nuts
6 cloves of roasted garlic
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
50g of Parmesan
1. Place the nuts into a frying pan and toast for a few minutes until they become golden. Set aside to cool.
2. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade add the nuts and parmesan and process until coarse crumbs are formed. Add the garlic, basil, salt and pepper and process before slowly pouring in the olive oil into the shoot of the food processor until the mixture is pureed.
3. Divide the pesto into zip lock freezer bags and freeze or serve immediately.