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.
Mallory’s Open-Ended Pesto
- 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
- Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend to a smooth consistency.
- Serve with pasta, over potatoes, or use as a condiment on sandwiches.