While classic pesto involves basil and pine nuts – and that’s what is in the recipe below – you can make pesto-like sauces with all kinds of greens and nuts. One of our favorite things to do is to substitute a mix of whatever tender greens we have growing (pea shoots, kale, mustard greens) for the basil, and substitute toasted walnuts for the pine nuts.
- 0.25 to 0.35 lb fresh basil leaves (wash them just before using!)
- 2 cloves garlic or 3 garlic scapes
- ¼ cup pine nuts (or pecans or walnuts (even better toasted!))
- Extra virgin olive oil, at least ½ cup
- Salt and pepper
- ½ cup freshly grated Italian cheese (Parmesan, Romano, Pecorino, Asiago)
Put the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and spin it around until it’s coarsely chopped. Slowly add the olive oil while processing until it forms a smooth paste. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix with the grated cheese.
Pesto is amazing on pasta, of course, but also on rice, steak, fish, eggs, bread, crackers, potato chips, baked potato, carrots, celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, and probably a lot of other foods!