Pesto recipes were just requested over on the herbs forum... I figured I'd post my 2 favorites over here and then put a link on the herb forum thread... I know I've posted these before, but have no idea where! LOL
Please add your own recipes or suggestions! Also, let us know how you use pesto. I have a lot of basil out there!
I like to freeze pesto (without salt, but I do add the cheese). If you put it into ice cube trays, you can pop out the frozen cubes and store them in a freezer bag. Actually, you can freeze other herbs in a similar fashion -- mince in your food processor, add a little olive oil (oil seems to be a good buffer for preserving the flavor), then freeze in ice cube trays -- it helps to note that you started with 2 cups of oregano leaves, say, and ended up with 8 cubes, so you can write "1 cube = 1/4 cup fresh oregano" on the bag.
Pesto Sauce from The All New All Purpose Joy of Cooking (critter's notes in parentheses)
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts (I also like to substitute cashews, almonds, or even walnuts)
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled (4 wouldn't hurt)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Process the above ingredients to a rough paste in the food processor.
With the machine running, slowly pour through the feed tube:
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sauce should be a thick paste. If it seems dry, add a little more olive oil.
Season with salt & ground black pepper to taste. Use immediately or store in a covered
glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week (or freeze as suggested above).
Here's a different version that uses sun-dried tomatoes instead of nuts. This is my favorite for mixing with butter as a spread for good italian bread (1 ice-cube sized portion per stick of butter), and DH adds a cube to his pizza crust, too.
Red Pesto Sauce from The All New All Purpose Joy of Cooking
1/3 cup chopped drained water-packed sun dried tomatoes
1 clove garlic, peeled
6 fresh basil leaves
Combine in a small saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil,
remove from heat, and let stand for 20 minutes, then drain.
(Or you can use dry sun dried tomatoes. Combine in a microwave-safe bowl with
the garlic, basil, and water to cover by 1/4 inch. Microwave on high for several minutes,
then allow tomatoes to stand until they are softened. If tomatoes have not absorbed
all of the water, drain off the excess liquid.)
With the machine running, drop through the feed tube of a food processor:
1 large clove garlic, peeled
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
the drained tomato mixture
Process to a thick paste. Season with salt and ground black pepper to taste
If serving with pasta, sauce may be thinned with 1/2 pasta cooking water or hot water.
For use in bread or pizza dough, you may wish to reduce the oil to 1 Tbsp. or less.
Critterologist suggested postings of how someone uses pesto. My very recipe is: peel and devein large shrimp and saute in a little olive oil until pink. Add pesto until the shrimp are coated and simmer just a little longer. Serve pesto shrimp over linguine, or if you're watching carbs, cooked and "shredded" spaghetti squash. Very easy and very delicious!!!!!
I keep my Genovase basil going all summer; make batches of pesto and freeze in small jars such as the ones minced garlic, pimientos, artichoke hearts, etc., come in, or even small jelly jars. I place the small jar in some warm water, and by the time I have peeled my shrimp and almost finished microwaving my spaghetti squash, my pesto has thawed.
Yum! The red pesto is good with cream cheese or goat cheese (sun dried tomatoes are already in it) too, but I think having the separate colors of the green pesto and the deep red tomatoes is even prettier!
For a quick lunch
Spread pesto on good french bread and top with fresh tomato
I also put pesto on pizza shells instead of tomato sauce
Also I make stuffed chicken with pesto
Here is a low calorie recipe that I make also along with the traditional so I can enjoy it more often
POINTS® Value | 2
Servings | 4
Preparation Time | 12 min
Cooking Time | 0 min
Level of Difficulty | Easy
2 Tbsp pine nuts
2 cup basil, leaves, fresh
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium garlic clove(s), peeled
1/2 tsp table salt
Place pine nuts in a small skillet and set pan over medium heat. Cook until nuts are golden, shaking pan frequently to prevent burning, about 3 minutes. Transfer nuts to a plate to cool.
In a blender or food processor, combine nuts, basil, broth, cheese, oil, garlic and salt; process until smooth and thick. Yields about 1/4 cup per serving.
Notes: Pesto is traditionally a basil and pine nut-based sauce that’s crammed with olive oil. This version is lightened up by swapping chicken broth for oil. The flavor is fresh and wonderful – spoon it over meat, fish, poultry and vegetables, or toss it with cooked pasta.
My family is on a low-salt low-fat diet due to health concerns. As a result, I dropped both cheese and nuts from my pesto recipe and was surprised to find we liked it just as well. I use a squeeze of lemon juice along with some low-sodium lemon pepper, and as much basil as I can cram the EVOO into emulsifying, using the food processor.
I freeze this in 1/2 cup containers, which has been the perfect portion size for my various recipes. For added creaminess we use some evaporated low-fat milk. If I need to thicken the pesto sauce I use some cornstarch. This way we can use much less cheese by sprinkling it on top rather than incorporating it in the pesto itself.