The wonderful thing about pesto is that you can use any green that is in season, in combination with basil, to make a delicious sauce, spread or dip! In our share this week we received amazingly fresh arugula and shiny, perfect basil. So PESTO immediately sparked my interest.
Pesto is typically made with basil and pine nuts. But it tastes great with walnuts, almonds or cashews, all much more affordable than pine nuts. Keep an open mind in the process, you can get creative with your ingredients, just follow these basic guidelines for proportions of greens, oil, and nuts.
2 cups herbs or greens of choice (i.e. arugula, kale, spinach, parsley, etc)
1 cup basil (wash, then spin or pat dry)
1⁄2 cup nuts of choice (I used walnuts, lightly toasted on an oven try first)
1⁄8 cup Olive Oil (or other oil of choice)
1 Tbsp lemon juice (Omit if you do not care for citrus)
4-6 cloves garlic (use a lot for a stronger flavor, less for more mild pesto. Roast garlic cloves in the oven first if you'd like)
1⁄2 cup grated parmesan cheese (I do suggest sticking to parm, other cheeses do not function the same in this recipe)
Salt and pepper to taste.
Optional: red pepper flakes for spice
This is the easy part. Toss everything in the food processor and blend! Pulse a few times to get everything evenly distributed around the bowl of the processor! Depending on the type of greens you are using, the consistency will vary. A few TIPS: If the pesto is too thin, add more nuts. If it is too thick, slowly add a little more oil. Taste a few time by dipping a spoon or cracker into the bowl. Serve immediately over pasta or as a spread on sandwiches or even as a dip for veggie sticks and crackers. Saves well in airtight container in the refrigerator, cover the top with olive oil to keep from browning.
Here's another great trick: Remove half the pesto from the processor and store for future use. Add half a block of cream cheese to remaining pesto and blend well. This makes an incredible veggie dip. I serve with fresh carrots, tomatoes, cukes, summer squash etc. Most of these wonderful items you found in your CSA this week! Have fun with it and enjoy the wonderful summer harvest veggies and herbs!
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