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Thread: Pesto

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Bay Area California


    High quality pesto is almost impossible to find, and if you do, you'll have to pay an arm and a leg to get it. Classic pesto also has a cheese in it and pine nuts. For long term health reasons, I've cut back on over 90% of my normal dairy intake. And once the pine nuts jumped from 8 bucks per pound to over $30 per pound, they often go rancid before the consumer gets them. So I've substituted walnuts and you can't really tell the difference.

    Don't be afraid of the olive oil. I've been meaning to make a write up on basic health thingies, and if I can ever get that together, I'll post it here. Bottom line, there are health benefits to a good quality olive oil.

    Anyway, it is best to use the spring growth, but can be made anytime you get your hands on inexpensive basil. Remember, typically, when the price goes down, it is in season and will be fresher. Concentrated fresh basil as in this recipe will have almost a peppery flavor to it.

    You can use this for most anything. Dipping, fresh veggie stir fry (add after frying and just before plating), even on eggs.

    I don't have a food processor, only a blender. So if you have a food processor and know how to use it, that would probably be better.

    PESTO 7/12
    2 Cups yield

    The motivation or impetus for this recipe was the large bunches of basil for only a buck at our local farmers market in springtime. Depending on the season, to get the same amount, it would probably take three to five bunches from our local grocer at a greater cost per bunch. By the time I’m done removing the leaves from the bigger stems, I have a pretty full and well rounded mound of leaves covering most of a ~10” dinner plate.

    Regarding olive oil, I have found the Trader Joe’s Premium 100% Kalamata Extra Virgin one quart+ for $8.99 to be a great value and product. A good quality of olive oil will always enhance the flavor of any pesto recipe. You can spend (a lot?) more to get an inferior product, no need for the ultra high end oils; after all, this is about the fresh and intense ‘spicy’ basil flavor.

    One thing to take note of is that the flavors will blend and mellow after sitting overnight. This may seem obvious, but there is a bigger point . . . For example, as I was playing with the ratio of ingredients, one batch tasted too salty after making it; but was wonderful the next day. Even this recipe may taste of a bit too much salt and garlic after making it, but the next day that flavor will mellow and blend into something very yummy.

    Put into a blender:
    1 C Olive oil
    1.5 t Salt
    2 t Vinegar (preserves color)
    And loosely fill blender with basil leaves (to start) then pulse blender (no need for a lid).

    After pulsing the blender - - I do everything in this recipe with the blender on medium speed, top up blender with more leaves and pulse again. Keep pulsing. Add another small handful of basil, but start packing it in now. I pulse it a few times after each addition. Add more leaves as necessary, pack, and mix the blended and new leaves with spoon. Continue until no more leaves. Sometimes I add more oil. Don’t worry about adding too much oil, if the oil raises to the surface after a day or so, you can use it to flavor other cooking.

    After all basil is in blender, now add:
    6 Lrg Cloves garlic, peeled and quartered

    As garlic blends, you can slowly add:
    1 C Walnuts

    You will notice it getting thicker. The more walnuts you add, the slower you will need to add them. You may need to turn the blender off to “release” an occasional air bubble. I used to just stop adding the walnuts when it got thick, then I began measuring them and found a cup to be about what I was using. More or less is okay to adjust for consistency.

    Personally, I like to keep the blending to a minimum during this last stage. But I enjoy a more coarse texture. If you like it creamy smooth, blend it longer.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    New Mexico
    Pistachios are another good substitute for pine nuts. Here, people sell pine nuts on the road. A cash crop for them.
    Put a sheet under the tree and hit it with your pickup. The tree not the sheet.
    If someone doesn't like pesto it's usually because of cheap cheese. I only use Parmigiano Reggiano. Most others smell like gym shoes. And don't even consider the dried stuff. Boars Head and Murray's are good.
    I've been told hard cheese is not as bad as the soft cheeses. Don't ask me why but something to do with the cholesterol.
    Fresh basil is easy to grow even in a kitchen. I've got some Greek basil growing now I haven't tried yet.
    "What Fools these mortals be"....Puck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Desert Southwest
    It is a lot of work getting those nuts out of the cones and then there all that sap too.
    If you can't fix it with JB Weld, Duct Tape, and Ty Wire it has to be replaced.
    No good deed goes unpunished.
    If you want to take off friday to go fishing then make sure you train your helper right.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    New Mexico
    Quote Originally Posted by desert guy View Post
    It is a lot of work getting those nuts out of the cones and then there all that sap too.
    Ya I know....You live here too...
    Not as bad though as black walnuts where, east of here, I used my truck to break the hulls.
    "What Fools these mortals be"....Puck

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