I almost didn't become a pesto-maker. I've never done it before, and even though I love pesto, I think of it being dependant on lots of garlic, and Blanca doesn't like even a little garlic. So I order pesto on nights when we go out and I'm prepared to be banished to the far side of the bed later on. But last week, I said I'd make pesto, and I follow through on my promises almost to a fault. This time, it's really all for the best. Pesto, it turns out, is super fast and easy to make, does not require much if any garlic, is fantastically adaptable to whatever you happen to have on hand, and can be esily made lin large enough quantities to eat some now, and save some in the fridge for next week and in the freezer for next month.
1 small garlic clove
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
2 cups medium-packed basil leaves
1 cup loosely packed parsley
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 dried chinese red pepper (gives it a very little kick; mostly enhances the flavor)
1/4 cup water
Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until completely smooth. You may need to stick a spoon in once or twice to mix it up as you go. This makes about 2 cups of totally blended pesto.
Any nut, really, works wonderfully. Pine nuts are classic; walnuts are great; even sunflower seeds work!
You can mix and match with the parsley and basil, using more of one and less of the other as you like. You can also substitue all or part of either with spinach.
If you like garlic you can use more.
Romano or Asiago cheese both work well in place of parmesan.
To serve with pasta, mix 1 cup pesto into 1 package spaghetti or other pasta cooked al dente (bring big pot of salted water to rapid boil drop in 1 package of pasta and 1 T olive oil; return to boil and cook 8-11 minutes, depending on type of pasta; drain immediately then return to pot where you'll add in the pesto), stir well and serve. My mom reminds me that traditional italian pesto is served mixed into pasta with potatoes and green beans--both in season right alongside the basil!
Also works wonderfully as a base for pizza and a spread for sandwiches.