I’ve had it in my mind all summer to make pesto. When I noticed that my basil was beginning to wilt in the August heat, I knew that I had to act fast. Pesto is typically made with pine nuts or walnuts, however, I followed the advice of a friend and used raw almonds instead. (“First, I buy my own raw almonds because they are cheaper than pine nuts, healthier, and when I dry roast them in a saute pan on the stove, they are sweeter, have no salt, and the leftovers can be eaten for snacks. The texture is also great.”)
Making pesto is not an exact science. Google pesto, and you’ll discover hundreds of variations. If you want to create your own, but you’re not sure of ratios, then follow the Cuisinart recipe below – don’t be afraid to improvise according to your personal tastes!
1.5 ounces reggiano parmigiano
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (I used almonds; dry roasted on my stovetop)
2 garlic cloves (I used more)
3/4 tsp kosher salt (I also added a pinch of cayenne)
1.5 cup packed fresh basil leaves (I sneaked in Thai Basil too because it is plentiful in my garden)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
After dry roasting the almonds, I chopped them and the garlic together in my food processor. I then added the remainder of the ingredients which I processed until they reached the desired consistency (again, a matter of personal taste). For dinner I mixed pesto with cooked pasta and added yellow tomatoes (also from my garden) as well as chicken. I then refrigerated the mixture and served the dish as a cold pasta salad. I’m already dreaming of ways to use up the cup of pesto that is left over. Some ideas are – pesto pizza, bruschetta, as a topping for baked fish or as a dressing for grilled veggies. The possibilities are endless.