Not your ordinary pesto
Alternative pesto recipes
Green and gooey things tend to be a little disgusting. Unless it's pesto, which is a yummy proof that there are exceptions to every rule. Pizza loves pesto, pasta is its best friend and the only thing not entirely happy with pesto is your wallet. Unless you're a curious soul who likes kitchen experiments. Here's some alternatives to classic ingredients. Mix according to your taste and enjoy!
Photo by Tiggered
Classic recipe for pesto
Pesto has become a sort of culinary celebrity in recent years, so it's pretty likely there is no human being left on the planet who doesn't know what is it made of. If you happen to be the rare exception, here's the list of what you need for a classic pesto genovese:
- fresh basil - loads and loads of it
- pine nuts
- olive oil
- grated parmesan
Mix everything until smooth and that's basically it.
Now, if you grow your own basil, you have no problem, but if you are to buy the quantity required, your wallet will scream in pain. It won't be happy either when it's time to pay for pine nuts - pretty much the most expensive you can get. Let's explore some alternative options.
How to make basil pesto?
Basil for pesto
One quick question to warm you up.
Have you ever made pesto with anything other than basil?
Just the opposite end of price spectrum in the herb world. In my local veg market they give bunches of stuff away, maybe yours happens to have the same marketing strategy? It's dead easy to grow, too. Works great mixed with any other herbs. Use parsley for non aggresive base and add other greens to deliver taste kick!
Pesto tastes best with homegrown greens
Rocket / Arugula pesto
If you like things spicy, go for the rocket. It's strong, peppery taste will make your pesto one-of-a-kind.
Oh, and did you know rocket is one of the easiest plants to grow? Even if you don't have a garden, you should have no problem growing it in a container. It is really hardy and will reward your minimum effort with plentiful harvest.
Arugula for pesto
Basil lovers vs experimental squad!
Which pesto is better - basil or any of the alternatives?
Not only cheap, but also healthy like hell. You want to be strong like Popeye, add some spinach to your pesto! Remember, only fresh leaves, frozen mush will not do.
Spinach pesto recipes
Coriander, known also as cilantro, is another great alternative for pesto base.
Coriander pesto recipes
Growing coriander for pesto
What a fantastic plant this is! Not only looks pretty, but also you can eat it whole. Leaves, flowers, seeds, everything. Flowers can be deep-fried or stuffed, seeds pickled and leaves make fabulous pesto.
Nasturtium pesto recipes
Nasturtium for pesto
Your pesto can't get cheaper than this. Free food from a meadow, that's the way to go. Choose young leaves, because they get bitter as they grow. Unless, of course, you like bitter greens. Then dandelion pesto is just perfect for you.
Dandelion pesto recipes
Pesto with other greens
Basically, you need anything green and leafy to make pesto. Some herbs taste really strong, so use them as extra rather than a base for your recipe. Parsley or basil work great with mint, thyme, sage, dill or any other herb, I've even heard of pesto made with lettuce. Most of wild herbs from a meadow work great too, and you can play them around in endless combination, the only trick is you need to know which to pick in order not to poison yourself.
Pick and mix, the recipe is yours to play with.
Boost your pesto with homegrown herbs
Although classic, pine nuts are not a necessary ingredient for your pesto. They can be easily substituted with any other nut (well, I would be cautious with coconut...). The most popular alternatives are almonds and cashew nuts, but you can also try hazelnuts, pecans or even peanuts. Whichever you choose, roast them first. It makes hell of a difference tastewise.
What else can you add to your pesto? Possibilities are endless. Sun dried tomatoes. Chili peppers. Sunflower seeds. Ginger. Sesame seeds. Olives. Capers. Anything.
You can also experiment with cheese (anything you can grate) and oil.
It may not resemble the classic recipe, but as long as you like it, who cares?
Need some recipes?
These books can help. Just think about it - there are people who loves pesto enough to write a book about it! They are sure to know some great tricks.
I'm itching to hear your opinion. Do you like pesto? Do you like this lens? Do you want to say anything else? Go ahead!