When you think of pesto, what comes to mind? It is likely that you immediately imagine a beautiful green Pesto alla Genovese, made of basil, pine nuts, garlic, cheese, and olive oil.
There is a reason this specific pesto is the most well known pesto; it's delicious. Nutty and herby are two truly incredible elements of any dish. My only, very small, issue with Pesto Genovese is its lack of acidity. I love acidic foods, especially alongside herbs.
I also typically find myself substituting the pine nut for something else, something cheaper, let's be frank. The walnut is probably the most versatile nut there is, and I've found the most delicious ones come from California, so I often use these, but any nut will do.
And while we're on the topic of substitutions, are you someone who always has some type of herb in your kitchen, but maybe that herb isn't always basil? Same here. I've made so many pestos, and I can confirm that almost any other herbs and even vegetables also work if substituted correctly.
- 1/3c toasted nuts, any kind you like
- The juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 2 oz parmesan cheese
- 1 bunch of fresh herbs, arugula, spinach, or other tender greens; OR a bunch of more fibrous greens or vegetables that have been blanched and wrung dry; OR a combination of both
- 2 cloves of garlic, grated
- Salt, pepper, cayenne for seasoning
- 1/2 cup or more of olive oil
- Place everything except for the olive oil in a large food processor and pulse until all the ingredients are finely chopped, stopping to scrape down the sides as often as necessary.
- Then process on low, and with feed tube uncovered, stream in the olive oil very slowly. If it still resembles a paste after you've streamed in 1/2 cup, add more until it looks smooth, more like a thick, glossy smoothie. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Here are some combinations to try
- Parsley; pistachios. (The one in the lasagna below, and food processor above)
- 50/50 broccoli rabe and basil; walnuts. (this post's cover image)
- 50/50 basil and mint; 50/50 wasabi peas and walnuts. Try using 50/50 sesame oil and olive oil for this version. It will be packed with flavor!
- 50/50 parsley and dill; pine nuts