Cheaper pesto without sacrifice!
Hello friends! Over the past few sunny months my Mum has been growing a massive basil plant. This weekend we decided to cut it down and make delicious pesto! Pesto is something we both love to have on hand to add to cream pastas and chicken dishes.
To make authentic pesto you must use pine nuts but this can become very costly, with some stores selling 100g for upwards of 10$ CAD. This has always turned me off of making pesto, but this weekend a revelation was had and forever more I will use pistachios instead! This bring the price down drastically.
You can freeze it in ice cube trays and add it to dishes that way, or if you are going to use it all within a few weeks, keep it in the fridge with a layer of oil on top and make sure to add the lemon juice in the recipe!
Food Processor, Blender or Mortar and Pestle.
A sharp chefs knife
Tupperware or mason jars
6 cups fresh basil
1 cup shelled pistachio nuts
1 1/2 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
Juice of a lemon
6 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cup Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Start by shelling the pistachio's. Thanks to Mum I did not have to undergo this tedious task and good thing because she was much more thorough than I would have been!
Next take your precious basil plant and whack it down! Sometimes this can be a emotional process as this plant has been cared for so delicately and lots of love was put into the feeing and watering. When chopping I was sure to leave two stalks standing for pastas and pizza for the rest of the year :D I think it will continue to grow and Mum will have a second harvest! Bloom!
We added the 6 cloves of garlic and the pistachio to the food processor and pulsed them until coarsely ground. We then started to drop in the basil handful by handful and continued to pulse.
On the last addition of basil we added the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. It is very has a complex and savory flavor that will work with the pistachio to create the richness that we are expecting in a pesto!
Parmigiano-Reggiano contains large quantities of glutamate which is what gives the cheese its signature umami flavor and strength. This glutamate occurs naturally as the cheese is converted by bacteria slowly over a process that can take up to 12 years. It is wise to add the salt to taste, after the cheese has been fully incorporated. Sometimes this addition of natural MSG does all the work and no additional salt is needed.
You can learn endlessly about Parmigiano-Reggiano through youtube or a simple google search. With a history as rich as its flavor, Its an extraordinary cheese that is worth every penny that we pay for it!
Pulse pulse, blend blend, or grind grind, depending on what method you are using to turn this mixture into a paste. As we do this we slowly drizzle in the olive oil until it is all incorporated. If you want a thinner pesto add more oil but be careful not to add way too much.
I prefer to use the food processor as it is designed for this exact purpose and creates a really smooth pesto effortlessly.
Any way you go about it, try and get the pesto to at least the consistency of what is shown below. This will allow the flavors to meld and give a nice texture on the palate. If it is too thick then add more oil but always drizzle it in slowly to avoid over saturating the mix.
At this point we added our salt and pepper to taste and reamed in the lemons. Give it one last big pulse to incorporate it all and get out your tasting spoon!
It can be added to any dish, Greek salads, pastas, chicken dishes are some of my favorites. The color and flavor of this dish will impress your guests and leave them asking for the recipe and a jar for the road!
Now that you have this nice quantity of pesto, jar it up, freeze it or send it around to those who will use it!
Thanks for reading the very first, official Colli Cooks blog post. Feel free to leave an comment at the bottom of the article and if you have questions send me an email or use the contact me page at the bottom of this site!