Pesto is so easy to make, and all kinds of wonderful herbs can make a delicious pesto! Basil pesto is the most familiar for most of us, but any tender herbs can be used to make tasty pesto combinations.
Some new flavour combinations we love:
cilantro and mint with almonds, for lamb or chicken
sorrel and parsley with walnuts, on roasted root vegetables
dill and lemon basil with pistachios, on fish, or in a potato salad
No matter the herb, just use the same basic formula: herbs, nuts, salt and olive oil. While cheese is traditional in pesto, it’s optional. A teaspoon of nutritional yeast can be used in place of cheese to give rich flavour for a vegan pesto.
This formula works best with tender herbs like parsley, dill, cilantro, tarragon, chives, chervil, sorrel, mint and basil. You could even mix greens with your herbs such as cress, spinach or arugula too! Lemon zest, lime juice or a pinch of chili flakes can really perk up the mix.
Everyone knows and loves pine nuts in pesto, but there are so many more options out there! Pistachios, walnuts, almonds, pecans, or hazelnuts can be delicious. Sunflower seeds, hemp hearts or green pumpkin seeds make great nut-free versions. Just chop larger nuts before measuring them into a ½-cup measuring cup to get an accurate amount.
Here’s what you will need to make pesto:
1-2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
2 cups tender herbs, such as parsley, sorrel, tarragon, mint, cilantro, dill, chervil or basil
½ cup nuts or seeds, such as walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano or other hard aged cheese, or 1
teaspoon nutritional yeast
¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil or any other healthy oil
Here’s how easy it is to make pesto:
Make sure you wash and dry the herbs well. Some herbs (like parsley and dill) can have a surprising amount of grit and sand in them. Measure out 2 cups of herbs. You want to really pack them into a 2-cup measuring cup. You can include tender stems in the pesto. They taste good too!
Mash and mince the garlic well in a mortar and pestle, a food processor or a blender. Next, add in the 2 cups of clean herbs, and all the other elements: nuts, cheese, salt and olive oil. Give it a buzz, and presto, pesto!
This recipe makes 1 ½ cups, more than enough for several meals. If the surface of your pesto is exposed to air, it will discolour. To avoid this, store it in small, sealed jars or containers, filled right to the top.
Pesto can be stored in a sealed container or jar for up to 1 week in the fridge or frozen for up to 3-4 months. This is an excellent way to preserve the goodness and nutrition of fresh herbs in the summer, when they are cheap and abundant in the market or your garden. The
bright herb flavour of pesto will add a welcome boost to winter meals!