The number 2 reason I have an herb garden every year.?? (I'll tell you the number 1 reason another day)...is PESTO! I just love love love it! And here's why...
This little sauce has been around a while. Pesto originated in Genoa, which is located in one of my favorite spots in the world... northern Italy. It originated around the 16th century and traditionally consists of crushed garlic, basil and pine nuts blended with Parmesan cheese and olive oil. But there are so many variations today it could make your head spin.
The name Pesto originates from the Genoese word pestâ, which means to pound or to crush. But the authentic sauce is really ground with a mortar and pestle.....which is great if you don't have a CuisinArt. But again...I can be a bit lazy so this is my go to recipe. I like the classic and I like to make a LOT of it an freeze it so I have the freshness all winter long. I'm telling you this is just so delicious! Oh...And I'll share my healthy hack at the end:)
3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
Tip: you can include parsley or other herbs to make 2 cups
2-3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese
Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese. Serve with pasta or zucchini noodles.
If freezing, transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and stir in cheese. I use the little deli containers and they work perfectly. See things I love tab to check them out.
Reduce the oil to 1/8th cup and sub in 1/2 cup of chicken stock. You may not need the entire amount depending on how thick you like it. I made both variations for my Herbs 101 cooking class and everyone really loved this version just as much! It's delish and saves a ton of calories.
Tips: Pesto tossed in pasta is the classic but there are many other uses as well.
Try mixing into sour cream or greek yogurt for a dip. Replace pizza sauce with pesto, bake it into bread instead of garlic butter, spread on a sandwich or flatbread, mix into salad dressings, top veggies, smear on Bruschetta...you get it! Yummo!