Pesto isn’t just for the fine dining of the rich and famous. Rather, it can be a part of the regular ol' American family dinner.
While it may seem like a fancy and unnecessary addition to an otherwise tasty meal, its bold taste can elevate a food to a whole new level. Take a simple grilled chicken, for example: even when seasoned with a dry rub, it is just ordinary chicken. But when pesto is spread on top, it creates a completely different dish.
How to make pesto
The best part of pesto is its simplicity. Only four ingredients are needed:
- Greens (herbs or leafy greens)
- Fresh garlic
- Optional: Cheese may also be incorporated, although it is not necessary.
Pesto is traditionally made with fresh basil, but you may try parsley, cilantro, arugula, spinach, kale, or a combination of them all. The flavor of the pesto will greatly differ depending on the type of herb or green used. After throwing in a couple of cloves of garlic, nuts are added.
The Italians first used pine nuts, but most any nut will give it a similar taste. Walnuts, almonds, or even just peanuts will still provide a nutty flavor without the high cost of buying pine nuts.
Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice for a fresh taste, if desired. Finally, drizzle in the oil, which is traditionally olive.
Try pesto as a sauce in pasta, or pizza, or spread it on a grilled cheese sandwich. There are so many options!
- 3 cups basil leaves
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ cup nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, etc.)
- ¼-½ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
1. Over medium-high heat, toast the nuts in a skillet for 3-5 minutes until lightly browned.
2. In a food processor, combine herbs, garlic, nuts, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
3. Pulse while drizzling in the olive oil.
Basil Pesto Bruschetta
Yield: 18 servings | Printable Recipe
- 1 French bread baguette, sliced at a 45-degree angle about ½-inch thick
- 2 cups prepared pesto (recipe above)
- 6 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Arrange bread slices on an ungreased baking sheet.
2. Spread each slice with about a Tablespoon of pesto.
3.Top with chopped tomatoes and cheese.
4. Broil 4 inches from heat for 3-5 minutes until edges are lightly browned.
5. Lay tomatoes and cheese on the bread.
6. Drizzle pesto sauce on top.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 110 calories, 2 grams fat, 5 milligrams cholesterol, 260 milligrams sodium, 19 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram dietary fiber, 5 grams protein
This blog post first appeared in The Pantagraph on July 2, 2014.