How to Make Pesto

I went to the dentist today and they didn’t find anything to get concerned about, so it was a red letter day around here. My whole goal for today was to get through my dentist appointment without feeling bad about myself, and I did it. When you set your goals to be real teeny, it is amazingly easy to accomplish them.

I am celebrating by making pesto. The basil plant out back still has tons of leaves on it, even though it is almost Halloween, and so pesto fest is upon us. Pesto is a great way to take care of all the fresh herbs at the end of the summer, if you don’t mind cleaning your food processor a bunch of times.

What can you do with pesto? Well, I’m glad you asked. I like to spread it on little toasts and eat it as a snack or toss it with some hot pasta and a little ricotta cheese. I also like to freeze it in ice cube trays. Each cube holds about 1 tbsp. of pesto (magic!). They keep in the freezer all winter, and you just throw a cube or two into some soup, rice or a stew when you want to add some potent fresh herb flavor.

Typically, pesto is made with basil and pine nuts, but with the power of substitution, you can make it with any herb-nut combination. You can also leave out the nuts altogether, and the cheese, and the garlic–and just have pure preserved herbs. The formula is simple — it’s all based on two’s:

  • 2 cups basil (or any other herb or a combo of herbs)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp. pine nuts, toasted (or any other nut)
  • ½ cup Parmesan, grated

Puree all together until smooth.

But why stop there? Pesto makes a great dip if you throw in some additions. My personal favorite is adding a handful of rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes, but you could also try roasted mushrooms or roasted red peppers. Or maybe mix it with some soft cheese.

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27 thoughts on “How to Make Pesto

  1. inmykitchen 24 October 2006 at 9:28 am

    I made pesto earlier this month with Italian parsley, walnuts and dried mushrooms. I omitted the parmesan cheese, it was quite an unusual taste, but I liked it.
    My herbs are on their way to winter sleep, but my cilantro is still pretty full. I’m considering making pesto with this. Do you have any seasoning combinations to recommend to go with cilantro?

  2. simplycooking 24 October 2006 at 12:10 pm

    I have absolutely no luck growing cilantro, ever. It always dies on me. I don’t really like it that much. I associate cilantro with Mexican and Asian flavors. Going with the Asian theme, I would combine it with garlic, peanut oil, peanuts, lime juice and lime zest, and leave out the cheese. To make it less pungent, I would probably throw in some other herbs like Thai basil and maybe mint. It would make a good sauce for some Asian-style noodles.

  3. David 4 November 2006 at 6:17 am

    In addition to your good suggestions, I like pesto in soups this time of year–a few tbsps adds a nice flavor. Also, tossing pesto with pieces of roasted potato & pasta is a nice hearty dish. I just posted my pesto recipe on my blog, similar to yours though I like more garlic and romano cheese.

  4. Cream Cheese Spread « Simply Cooking 26 December 2006 at 9:47 am

    […] 2 tbsp. pesto […]

  5. […] In a blender, mix 3/4 cup half-and-half, 1 cup stock, 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch and 1/4 cup pesto […]

  6. (S)Mashed Potatoes « Simply Cooking 21 April 2007 at 4:40 pm

    […] pesto […]

  7. […] takes on. I don’t know how I would get by without one. I use it to puree dips, spreads, pestos and salsas. It can quickly grate potatoes, zucchini or a block of cheese. It can knead dough. It […]

  8. […] and tomatoes get along well together. I did a big harvest today, enough to make a good batch of pesto, and I barely made a dent. I expect I will get 3 or 4 similarly sized harvests before the summer is […]

  9. […] it was so brutally hot that nothing would get me working outside. I made two batches of pesto: one regular-style for freezing, and one batch of arugula-basil pesto with ricotta and walnuts for eating this week (see recipe […]

  10. Jade 19 January 2008 at 11:23 pm

    I just made a pesto using rocket and peanuts. The bitterness of the rocket made for a distinctive and quite amazing flavour. I’m looking forward to using my mew combo in all the dishes I would add “regular” pesto to.

  11. […] you have it on hand, for extra flavor stir in a tablespoon or two of pesto, a couple of rashers of cooked bacon or a Parmesan cheese rind (I keep them in the freezer for making […]

  12. […] on How to Make a Simple Green SaladFarmers Market Vegetable Soup « Simply Cooking on How to Make PestoNancy on How to Roast Chicken BreastsHummus: Simple and Easy « Simply Cooking on Quick […]

  13. […] made with your favorite recipe; here’s mine (I omitted the cheese for this […]

  14. […] the time for harvesting basil, so I am making batch after batch of pesto and using it in everything I can think of, as well as freezing some for […]

  15. […] on Afternoon TeaWhat’s Cooking in September « Simply Cooking on How to Make PestoWhat’s Cooking in September « Simply Cooking on What’s Cooking […]

  16. […] cheese with whole-grain crackers; fruit; sliced avocado or tomato; nuts or trail mix; dip such as pesto or bean dip with raw […]

  17. […] freezer and pantry to ensure that I can put together a delicious meal anytime. I didn’t put pesto on that list, but I probably should have. I made a big batch of pesto last summer and froze it in […]

  18. […] Recent Comments Garden Notes: First Real Spring Weekend « Simply Cooking on MarinadesShannon on How to Reheat Food Without a MicrowavePat Turlington on How to Reheat Food Without a MicrowaveShannon on Fun Blogs for Foodiessanctimonia on Fun Blogs for FoodiesShannon on Mediterranean-Style Roasted Vegetable SaladAnita Hoffman on Mediterranean-Style Roasted Vegetable SaladEmergency Dinner Guests? Pesto Vinaigrette! « Simply Cooking on How to Make RisottoEmergency Dinner Guests? Pesto Vinaigrette! « Simply Cooking on Adding Flavor to Quick Soups: Minestrone con PestoEmergency Dinner Guests? Pesto Vinaigrette! « Simply Cooking on How to Make Pesto […]

  19. […] and mayonnaise, but leftover sauces and dips make much more interesting sandwich spreads. Try pesto, aioli, homemade salad dressings, salsa or tomato sauce. Even a flavored oil and some vinegar will […]

  20. […] Sandwich « Simply Cooking on AioliHow to Make a Great Sandwich « Simply Cooking on How to Make PestoPan-Roasting Boneless Chicken Breasts: A No-Fail Technique « Simply Cooking on […]

  21. […] Grilling SeasonAdding Flavor to Quick Soups: Minestrone con Pesto « Simply Cooking on How to Make PestoHow to Make a Great Sandwich « Simply Cooking on How to Make SalsaHow to Make a Great […]

  22. […] I’ll go for it. I like to experiment with strong flavor additions to enliven a mash. Salsa, pesto or herb purees, roasted garlic and cheese are all great additions to […]

  23. […] Preserving a bounty of herbsMashing Vegetables Beyond Potatoes « Simply Cooking on How to Make PestoSouthwestern Scramble with Avocado, Bacon & Cheese « Simply Cooking on What’s […]

  24. […] hollandaise sauce, which would be quite decadent and delicious. But even something as simple as a pesto, salsa or aioli would work. But even without the sauce, they are yummy and very quick to make. If […]

  25. […] pizza.) I have been experimenting with sauces beyond just traditional pizza sauce, such as pesto and even barbecue sauce. As for toppings, I like to choose one or two cooked vegetables, some fresh […]

  26. […] you have any basil left to harvest, you’re probably still making pesto and wondering what to do with it; pasta sauce and pasta salad are two great […]

  27. Stomach Gas Bloating : 28 October 2010 at 11:46 am

    we use a national panasonic food processor and this seems to be a bang for the buck”~.

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