We’ve had a few warm days lately, and for me, that means pesto weather!!
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that we have a small backyard garden, which is always an interesting experiment and we’re never entirely sure what will take off and what won’t. This year, I let the kids pick a few additions at the garden shop, and we wound up with a random assortment that includes some ambitious gems like cauliflower and watermelon (both of which I am sure are known to flourish behind garages in central Ohio), plus some mint and brussels sprouts.
I’m excited to watch all of them and see how (if?) they grow, but there are a few items that I take deadly serious, including tomatoes, jalapenos, and most importantly, BASIL. I plant a ridiculous amount of this, way more than it’s fair share, and I even just went out last weekend and bought two more plants. Why? Because in the summer I have a mild obsession with fresh pesto. Can’t. Get. Enough. It may or may not be genetic, but I’m pretty sure I inherited this from my mom.
My son has a peanut allergy, and when he was little we thought he may be allergic to pine nuts too (turns out he isn’t). But he loved pesto and so I started making it at home to be sure there were no added pine nuts. At it’s simplest, all you need is fresh basil, parmesan, and olive oil (see my plain version here). Lemon juice, salt, and garlic add a little something extra depending on your tastes. But beyond the basic, you can fancy pesto up in a lot of different ways, which I do here a little by adding almonds and mint.
How do we use this? The kids start trying to dip their spoons in it as soon as I turn off the food processor, and I can’t blame them. We all love it on whole wheat pasta (with peas and sautéed greens), but it’s great as a sandwich spread (some ideas for that coming soon!), veggie dip, or mixed with grains feta, and vegetables for a side dish.
I don’t use an exact recipe, but I tried to approximate below. So play around if you like more cheese or less oil, whatever. Since I don’t have enough basil in the garden yet, I bought a large clamshell at the grocery. I tore off all the leaves (I should have measured but I estimate it was about 2.5 cups loosely packed) and added them to a food processor along with 1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves (but add more if you like mint!), 1/3 – 1/2 cup parmesan, 1/3 cup raw almonds, and 1/8 tsp salt. I pulse it up a few times until the mixture becomes smaller pieces. Then I drizzle in about 1/3 cup olive oil with the machine running, and keep processing until the texture is how I like it. See below for a pic of my final texture. And you’re done!
This summery pesto gets it's great flavor from fresh basil with a hint of mint. It's highly recommended that you lick the spoon!
- 2.5 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan
- 1/3 cup raw almonds
- 1/8 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 1/3 cup olive oil (or more or less, until desired texture is reached)
Add the basil, mint, parmesan, almonds and salt to a food processor. Pulse until well combined but not pureed. Turn off the machine and scrape down the sides.
With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil and process until the desired texture is reached. It should be paste-like but not too thick.
Tip: if your pesto is pretty thick and you are planning to use it for pasta, try reserving a little of the cooking water from the pasta and adding it in if needed when stirring together sauce/pasta.