Summer means pesto to me and if you have access to fresh basil there is nothing better. Pesto also freezes really well so make enough to get you through the winter if you can. I put pesto on everything eggs, in salad dressing, on fresh tomatoes, on rice with any protein and of course pasta!
One of my staple dishes all year round is Grilled Wah Gwan Salmon on Simple Rice with Pesto. Not only is this extremely good for you, it hit’s all the marks with flavor, it’s filling and you feel great after eating it.
Pesto is so versatile there is so much room to play with flavors and you cant mess it up. I like to add walnuts with my pine nuts, mint sometimes for an added fresh flavor and experiment with different preparations which I will show you – keep reading!
First let’s start with the basic recipe which you can adapt as you feel comfortable
Food processor or blender
- 4 cups fresh basil
- 1/2 cup shaved pecorino cheese
- 1/2 cup shaved romano cheese
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts reserve a couple for garnish
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- red pepper flakes optional
- In a blender or food processor combine the basil, garlic, oil, cheese, nuts and salt and pepper, blend.
- If the mixture is too thick to become a paste, slowly add water.
You can add this pesto as is directly to your pasta or top your rice and salmon, chicken, salad, anything with it. As always top with a little G Salt!
What I like to do when making traditional pesto with pasta is the following:
- Cook your pasta of choice as the directions suggest
- Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before straining and set aside
- Strain the pasta and set aside
- Set up a rather large double boiler set up – I like to take the pasta pot I was just using and fill it with about 3 inches of water in the bottom and turn the heat on high. Then take a large metal mixing bowl and set it on top of the pot of boiling water making sure there is space between the water and the mixing bowl.
- Add the pasta into the mixing bowl
- Add the pesto slowly and mix thoroughly as the flavors come out, the cheese melts and it’s fully integrated into your pasta
- Now is the time to use that pasta water set aside, add as needed to allow the sauce to coat the pasta
That’s it! Done!
Now how do we keep it green? I’ll show you two simple ways:
Option #1: Add ice to the blender or food processor a couple cubes at a time and no more than 5 cubes.
Option #2: This one is my favorite! Blanch your fresh basil before adding it to the blender or food processor.
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil with a strainer or steamer inside
- Prepare an ice bath
- Add the fresh basil to the boiling water
- Let boil for 5-10 seconds and immediately remove the strainer with the basil and add to the ice bath to cool
- Strain and press the water off the leaves