If this year marked the Spring of Risotto, then this is surely the Summer of Pesto. I can’t stop making the stuff. It all started a few weeks ago when I threw together some parsley pesto; since then, pretty much anything that I can fit in my Cuisinart is getting blitzed.
A particular favorite of mine is garlic scape pesto — doesn’t this look like I’m about to take my knife to a pile of bright green elvers? — but I’ve had great success with mint and even a sun-dried tomato and basil combo.
If you’re not going to use pesto immediately, no matter what type it is, after you transfer it to a storage container or bowl pour a thin layer of olive oil over its entire surface to keep it from turning an unappetizing shade of brown. Though pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days, I’ll pretty much immediately spoon my results into a dated and labeled bags, then freeze them. Days, weeks or even a few months later, you can defrost a bag to mix into a bowl of boiled potatoes, spread onto chicken breast, dollop into omelets and, of course, toss with pasta.
2 loosely packed cups fresh basil leaves, big stems discarded, rinsed and dried
Salt to taste
½ to 2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts, lightly toasted in a dry skillet
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, or more
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan or other hard cheese (optional)
Combine the basil, salt, garlic, nuts and about half the oil in a food processor or blender. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container occasionally, and adding the rest of the oil gradually. Add additional oil if you prefer a thinner mixture. Stir in the Parmesan by hand just before serving.
Garlic Scape + Almond Pesto, from Dorie Greenspan
Makes about 1 cup
10 garlic scapes, finely chopped
1/3 to ½ cup finely grated Parmesan (to taste and texture)
1/3 cup slivered almonds (you could toast them lightly, if you’d like)
About ½ cup olive oil
Put the scapes, 1/3 cup of the cheese, almonds and half the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor (or use a blender or a mortar and pestle). Whir to chop and blend all the ingredients and then add the remainder of the oil and, if you want, more cheese. If you like the texture, stop; if you’d like it a little thinner, add some more oil. Season with salt.
Makes about 1 cup
2 cup packed fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or toasted slivered almonds
2 garlic cloves, smashed with the side of your knife
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt + Pepper to taste
Place the mint leaves, pine nuts and garlic in a food processor and pulse until chopped. With the machine on, add the lemon juice and olive oil in a thin stream and process until smooth. Season the pesto with salt and pepper.
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
Makes a bit less than a cup
¾ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained (I prefer to use the halves, though have used the julienned if that is what I had on hand)
¼ cup loosely packed basil leaves
3 tablespoons slivered almonds
3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of your knife
Salt + pepper to taste
Combine ingredients in blender. Blend until paste forms, stopping often to push down basil. Blitz until smooth, adding oil slowly to achieve desired texture.