In a November 2009 blog about turkey salad pesto sandwiches I gave you the basic recipe for fresh pesto. I once bought some pesto in jar at my supermarket—never again. Whatever preservatives they add alters the flavor too much. Besides, pesto is so easy to make.
Last night I prepared some lamb shoulder chops and served them with mint-basil pesto. Basically, instead of two cups of basil you use one cup each of basil and mint leaves, toasted walnuts instead of pine nuts, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and reduce the parmesan portion to 3-4 tablespoons. This could be served with any cut of lamb.
Tonight I am preparing chicken breasts and topping them with spinach and pine nut pesto. Instead of basil I will use 2 cups of spinach leaves, pine nuts, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1-2 teaspoons of grated lemon peel, and a third cup of parmesan. I’ll leave out the garlic.
Another variation for lamb is walnut and mint pesto with one cup of mint leaves and one cup of parsley leaves, walnuts, lemon juice, and garlic.
I haven’t tried this next one yet but will soon—2 cups basil leaves, 1 cup parsley, 1 tablespoon each of fresh thyme, rosemary and tarragon, ¼ cup of walnuts, and garlic.
All of these pesto recipes use about 1 teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of pepper, and a third to ½ cup of olive oil.
You simply put all of the ingredients (except the oil) into a food processor, turn it on and slowly add the olive oil. Voila, fresh pesto. Pesto can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator. To keep the pesto from turning a dark green, tear off a small piece of cling wrap and press it down directly over the pesto. It will keep its fresh green tint. I don’t like using cling wrap since it clings to everything before it submits to covering a container. Cling wrap is an emotional dwarf.
The basic pesto recipe is a great sandwich spread. Substitute for mayo—if you’re being good. I cheat and put pesto on one slice and mayo on the other.