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A New Take on Summer Pesto

Pesto! No matter what, pesto is that classic mouthful of summer that will always stand the test of time. Although classic pesto is the mother of them all, its versatile nature can take on many different identities. Here are two delicious variations of the beloved sauce to keep in your recipe arsenal.  One, sneaking in some fresh spinach to give it a healthier boost, and the other, adding sun dried tomatoes for a rich robust flavor.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves: about 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 8.5 oz jar sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, drained
  • ½ cup fresh finely grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • ¼ cup packed kalamata olives

Method:

  1. Place all of your ingredients except for the kalamata olives into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
  2. Process for about one minute or until all ingredients are smooth and fully incorporated.
  3. Now, add your kalamata olives and give 2-3 very short pulses to coarsely break up the kalamata olives. You’ll want chunks of it in your pesto, not processed into your pesto.
  4. Adjust for salt and pepper if needed.

DOWNLOAD THE RECIPE HERE!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves: about 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup packed fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup pine nuts (or walnuts)
  • ¾ cup fresh finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Method:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, pulse the basil, spinach, salt, pepper, and garlic cloves until broken up.
  2.  Add the pine nuts (or walnuts) and process 10-15 seconds.
  3. Add the parmesan cheese, place the top back on, and while the processor is running, slowly pour the olive oil in through the feeder tube until all is incorporated.  Adjust seasoning for salt and pepper if needed.

DOWNLOAD THE RECIPE HERE!

Notes:

  • These pesto’s freeze beautifully! Double or triple the batch to keep on hand for easy dinners. I usually freeze them in small glass ball jars or using an ice cube tray (once frozen, remove them from the tray and keep frozen in a ziplock freezer bag)
  • The pesto’s will keep in the fridge for about a week if not frozen for later use.
  • Pesto is a great alternative to use as pizza sauce, drizzled over omelets, mixed with sour cream or greek yogurt for a dip, used as a pasta sauce, or mixed into salad dressings.
  • The sun dried tomato olive pesto is especially delicious mixed into a brick of cream cheese to make a spread to put on a cheese plate, or spread onto a flour tortilla for a sandwich wrap.
  • The spinach basil pesto does have an earthly taste at first but mellows down quite a bit over time.
  • The top of the pesto will brown quickly, so when storing in the fridge or freezer, place a teaspoon or two of olive oil over the top to cover which will help prevent the browning.
  • Need it dairy free? Just omit the cheeses to make it a vegan.
  • Pine nuts can easily be substituted with walnuts or almonds. For deeper flavor, you can toast the nuts in a 350 degree oven for 8 minutes or until lightly toasted. Just make sure your nuts are fully cooled before processing into the pesto.

All Photos by Marla Smith Photography