Pesto, in Italian, means paste. There are so many different pestos, but my all time favorite is Pesto alla Genoese — the green pesto that most of us know. this is a recipe for pesto that I learned in Italy, and I love to share it because it is so very versatile. So, here’s a jump start for summer!


pesto alla genoese

1-1/2 cups firmly packed fresh basil
   (or use half spinach, or parsley)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup freshly grated Romano
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, or combination
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil (or less, depending on the consistency desired)

Place basil or other leaves, cheese, garlic, nuts and salt in blender or food processor.  Process with on/off turns until well blended, scrape down sides of container.  Slowly add the olive oil (you may not need as much as called for, and can substitute with half water if needed), the finished product should resemble soft butter.  Makes about 1 cup pesto.  Freezes well.

So, what are you going to do with your pesto?

Stir it into mayonnaise for a great spread … Or use this as the dressing for potato salad …

Dollop it on top of a block of cream cheese, and serve  with crackers;  pipe or spoon it into cherry tomato halves or cooked new potato halves for a great appetizer …

Stir it into your hummus for a different flavor profile …

While the pasta cooks, heat the pesto in a skillet with a bit of hot water from the pasta pot or some heavy cream. Toss in the hot pasta and ALORA! It’s dinner!

Shake it up with a bit more olive oil to thin it to a dressing consistency, and drizzle a bit over grilled fish.

And a bit of advice: Basil grows well here in the Northwest, but don’t be tempted to plant outside until nighttime temperatures no longer dip below 50°F. Be sure to plant it in a sunny spot with good drainage, and you will have basil until the first frost. Enjoy!



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