July 02, 2016

If you've ever contemplated what to do with an overabundance of fresh herbs in the summertime, pull up a chair and let's talk pesto.  Now, maybe you don't "garden" much.  I don't.  My husband puts the plants in the ground and I simply attempt not to kill them.  I tell you this so you don't mistake my knowledge of pesto with a mastery of growing-green-things-in the-ground. Sadly, they are not the same thing. Having said that, I do so love to grab a basket, head to the garden and begin clipping sprigs of fragrant herbs that will moments later sacrifice themselves to my culinary whims.  Therein lies one of the joys of feeding ourselves.  Grow something.  Then eat it.  It's one of the best things about summer.  Back to the pesto...

Remember this:  Pesto has 5 major components.  Herbs, Lemon Juice, Cheese, Toasted Nuts, and Olive Oil.  A little salt is an optional sixth ingredient.

How can you use pesto?  Let us count the ways.  Try stirring it into pasta or rice, spooned over cooked meats, spread on sandwiches and paninis, drizzled over flatbread or spread on pizza.  Check out these 5 varieties!

1.  Classic Basil Pesto  You'll love this on pasta and spread on sandwiches.  1 c. fresh basil, 1/4 c. shredded Parmesan, 1/4 c. toasted pine nuts, 2 T. lemon juice, 1/4 c. olive oil.  Place all ingredients except the oil into a blender or food procesor.  Pulse until coarsely chopped.  With motor running, add the oil in a steady stream until smooth.  Add salt to taste if desired.

2.  Cilantro Pesto  Great spooned over fish tacos and just about any Mexican dish.   1 c. fresh cilantro, 1/4 c. queso fresco, 1/4 c. toasted pumpkin seeds or any nut, 2 T. lime juice, 1/4 c. olive oil.  Place all ingredients except the oil into a blender or food processor.  Pulse until coarsely chopped.  With motor running, add the oil in a steady stream until smooth.  Add salt to taste if desired.

3.  Mediterranean Pesto  Try this spooned into rice or lamb chops.  1 c. fresh mint, 1/4 c. feta cheese, 1/4 c. toasted almonds, 2 T. lemon juice, 1/4 c. olive oil.  Place all ingredients except the oil into a blender or food processor.  Pulse until coarsely chopped.  With motor running, add the oil in a steady stream until smooth.  Add salt to taste if desired.

4.  Sage Pesto  Drizzle on cooked meat or flatbread.  Since sage is a very strong herb, blend it with a milder herb like parsley.  1/4 c. sage, 3/4 c. parsley, 1/4 c. shredded Parmesan, 1/4 c. toasted walnuts, 2 T. lemon juice, 1/4 c. olive oil.  Place all ingredients except the oil into a blender or food processor.  Pulse until coarsely chopped.  With motor running, add the oil in a steady stream until smooth.  Add salt to taste if desired.

5.  Tarragon Pesto  Fabulous on roasted chicken and stirred into chicken salad in place of mayonnaise.  1 c. fresh tarragon, 1/4 c. shredded Gruyere cheese, 1/4 c. toasted pecans, 2 T. lemon juice, 1/4 c. olive oil.  Place all ingredients except the oil into a blender or food processor.  Pulse until coarsely chopped.  With motor running, add the oil in a steady stream until smooth.  Add salt to taste if desired.



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