I am a late entrant to the basil pesto fan club but I am a loyal fan now. Think of basil pesto as an Italian take on the ubiquitous mint-cilantro chutney. In fact, I can match ingredient for ingredient between the two recipes! Let’s try that out…
Cilantro and mint leaves = Basil
Roasted peanuts = Roasted pine nuts
Garlic = Garlic (Well, garlic is not mandatory for cilantro-mint chutney)
The standard pesto recipe departs from the mint-cilantro chutney one at this point but the important points are covered, don’t you think?
So you start with fresh basil. I picked a bunch from Harry’s Farmers Market. The packet mentioned that it’s grown hydroponically, and if I keep the roots submerged in water, it would last longer. Chop it finely. Put in the mixer jar.
I didn’t have pine nuts at home. So I roasted some walnuts instead using a skillet. You have to be attentive or else you’ll end up with a bowl of burnt walnuts!
Next, chop up some garlic and throw that in there as well. Most times, I don’t have garlic at home. But this time, I did and so I used it. I am sure purists will disagree but I have made pesto before without using garlic and it tasted perfectly wonderful.
Pesto also contains cheese (mostly Parmesan or Romano, as this recipe mentions). I had paneer at home, and so I used it instead. Pulse it all together. Don’t forget to add salt and pepper. Pour in some good olive oil while it’s getting pulsed. I bought this brand (below, right) from Dekalb Farmers Market. You can also see the smaller bottle of chili oil next to it, a bottle of Braggs right behind, and possibly the can of sesame oil to the right of the picture. Just giving you a mini-tour of the oils and seasoning cabinet… 🙂
You can also add the oil later, after the pesto is made. You end up with a shiny and creamy fresh basil pesto that is pure yumminess.
Slather it over toast, toss it with noodles… Any other ideas? Let me know in the comments!