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Presto, Pesto! A Template for a Tradition

by Borderstan.com — August 22, 2012 at 12:00 pm 1 Comment

From Namita Koppa. Email her at namita[AT]borderstan.com.

As we’re approaching the home stretch of summer, our local farmers markets seem filled with piles of peaches, corn, and basil. A few years ago, a friend remarked on her disdain for basil but her present desire to pair her pasta with something other than tomato or Bolognese sauce had us experimenting with pesto.

Our traditional idea of pesto ingredients is quite static: basil, olive oil, garlic, salt, pine nuts, and parmesan. The history of this green sauce points to a slightly greater degree of culinary creativity, though. According to The Nibble, Ligurian chefs from Italy occasionally toss in some butter, a soft cheese, or tomatoes to alter the flavor and texture.

For my pesto-averse friend, however, this history is of no help. Traditional Italian pesto firmly places basil as a key ingredient, and its derivations are too slight to suit her taste buds. After much conversation, she developed a handy template for pesto creation. As summer dwindles and we approach bunches of autumn and winter greens, this easy recipe allows eaters to enjoy pesto at any time of year.

"Pesto"

Arugula spinach pistachio pesto. (Namita Koppa)

Mallory’s Open-Ended Pesto

Ingredients

  • 2 – 2 ½ cups greens (basil, arugula, spinach, kale, etc)
  • ¼ – ½ cup nuts, roasted (pine nuts, peanuts, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, etc)
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot or ½ medium white onion
  • 2-6 cloves garlic, depending on your preference
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ cup cheese (preferably a hard cheese such as Parmesan, (ecorino, Toscana, etc.), optional
  • ½ -1 cup additional herbs or cooked vegetables, optional
Directions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend to a smooth consistency.
  2. Serve with pasta, over potatoes, or use as a condiment on sandwiches.

Buon appetito!

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Comments (1)

  1. This is a personal fav of mine (the basil kind). If you make a large batch with only basil, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pine nuts, it can be frozen for later use. I recommend freezing in an ice tray so you only have to thaw the amount you want. Then you can have a taste of summer in January just by adding parm, butter, and anything else you like. I think it tastes best with only fresh, homemade pasta (or the refrigerated kind from the supermarket if you don’t have a pasta maker or you’re in a hurry).

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