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  • Writer's pictureRhonda Morrison

Kick up the flavor of your next meal with a fresh pesto

Spinach Pesto recipe, Arugula Pesto recipe, and Parsley Pesto recipe


Pesto is a simple and quick way to add flavor to a meal. There are so many different variations on what can go into a pesto. No matter what tickles your fancy, the ratios still remain the same.

Pesto is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle by working the pestle in a circular grinding motion in the bottom of the bowl of the mortar.

Traditional pesto is made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and parmesan. You can use just about any green leaf that you have on hand with or instead of basil. Parsley pesto is great with chicken and pork. Arugula or spinach goes well will beefy dishes. I have used toasted walnuts or almonds instead of pine nuts. Substitute another hard cheese for the parmesan or omit it altogether. The one constant I find in pesto recipes is oil and garlic. Pesto is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle by working the pestle in a circular grinding motion in the bottom of the bowl of the mortar. This can be very relaxing or considered time-consuming. In most kitchens today, pesto is made in a food processor in around sixty seconds. Whichever method you prefer, get ready for a slew of culinary options available for your homemade bowl of freshness.

Use pesto as a base for a marinade or a rub on meats, seafood, and vegetables. Brush it on a crisp sliced baguette topped with fresh tomato and salt and pepper for an easy appetizer. Butterfly tenderloin and fill it with pesto before rolling it up to roast in the oven or sear on the grill. This makes stunning pinwheels for an entrée when sliced and served. Or go straight old school by tossing it in with your favorite pasta. Try any one of my fresh pesto recipes to perk up your next meal in no time. Or invent your own. Drop me a line and let me know how it goes!

Spinach Pesto 1 cup basil leaves 2 cups spinach leaves 4 cloves garlic ½ cup olive oil ½ cup toasted pine nuts ½ cup grated asiago or pecorino romano Salt and pepper

In a food processor, pulse together pine nuts and garlic until chopped. Add cheese and olive oil and 1 tbsp. olive oil. Pulse until smooth. Add spinach and remaining olive oil and process on low until smooth. Add basil and process on low for no more than 30 seconds. Basil becomes bitter when over-processed.

Arugula Pesto 3 cups arugula leaves, stems removed ½ cup walnut pieces, toasted ½ cup olive oil ½ cup parmesan, grated 6 cloves roasted garlic ½ tsp. kosher salt

To roast garlic, preheat oven to 400. Place a whole head of garlic in aluminum foil. Coat garlic head in 1 tbsp. olive oil. Seal the foil around the garlic head tightly. Place in the oven for one hour. Remaining roasted garlic can be refrigerated for future use. Using a mortar and pestle, combine nuts, salt, and garlic in the mortar and grind with a pestle until smooth. Add parmesan and olive oil and grind again until smooth. Chop arugula and add to the mortar and grind until smooth.

Parsley Pesto ½ cup whole raw almonds 1 clove garlic, peeled 3 cups fresh flat parsley leaves ½ cup chives ½ cup olive oil ½ cup grated parmesan Salt and pepper to taste

Toast almonds on a sheet pan under the broiler at 400 watching to ensure that the almonds do not burn. Place almonds and garlic in a food processor and pulse until well chopped. Add parsley, chives, and olive oil to the food processor and pulse until smooth. Transfer pesto to a bowl. Stir in parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.

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