Monday, May 21, 2012

Groundhog Pesto

For whenever a groundhog eats all your basil, cilantro, or whatever other lovely green you wanted to make a pesto with, here is a flexible pesto recipe that uses whatever herbs or greens you have on hand and whatever nuts or seeds you like.  Many, many variants are possible, with versions such as "Middle Eastern" (cilantro, basil, sesame seeds), "Classic" (basil, pine nuts), "Moroccan" (Argan oil, walnuts), "Mexican" (cilantro, jalapeno oil), "Persian" (cilantro, parsley, basil, pistachios), "Winter" (arugula or spinach, almonds or cashews) and whatever other versions you can dream of. 

Not just a pest, a pest-o!

Groundhog Pesto

Note: If you are making this to go over pasta, grab about 1 cup of pasta cooking water before you drain the pasta.

Yields about 1 cup sauce.
3 cups (total) of herbs and/or flavorful greens.
Basil, Cilantro, Parsley, Arugula, Baby Spinach, even Garlic Scapes from your CSA! Try to use organic if possible. I just made GHP with 1 cup herbs (cilantro & basil) and 2 cups arugula and it was wonderful.

 2-4 garlic cloves (2 is standard, 4 is, well, a lot)

½ to 1 scant cup pasta cooking water OR ¼ to ½ cup olive (or other) oil
You can drizzle some oil in if you are using pasta water, too, or split the difference (ex:  ½ cup pasta water + ¼ cup olive oil, whatever). 

¼ to ½ cup nuts or seeds
Pine Nuts, Sesame Seeds, Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds), Cashews, Almonds, Walnuts, Pistachios, etc. You can use your nuts and seeds either raw or roasted/toasted.  If using roasted versions, be sure to soak them or use some hot pasta water in the pesto to soften them a bit.  If you have a VitaMix it probably doesn’t matter J

Juice of ½ to 1 lemon, add some zest, too, if you want it more lemony
1-2 tsps of salt (depends on your taste)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Wash your herbs or greens.  If using basil, take leaves off of the stalks.  If using cilantro, go ahead and use stems AND leaves! Did you know you can use the whole bunch of cilantro, stems and all, when making pesto?  The stems taste just like the leaves, not bitter at all like basil stems.  You can cut the bunch in half or thirds if you want to fit it better in your blender or processor, though. 

Put everything in a high-speed blender (like a VitaMix!) and blend for 30-60 seconds on high.  That’s it. 

If you are using a food processor, start by adding the garlic, pulse to chop, and scrape it down.  Then, add your nuts/seeds and pulse and scrape down alternately until you have a nice paste.  Then, add your greens/herbs salt, pepper and lemon juice and process.  With the machine on, drizzle the olive oil (or pasta water) in until it incorporates fully into the pesto.  Scrape down as needed.

Taste for seasoning and add whatever is lacking before serving.  Serve over pasta, beans, in tofu, seitan, or in soups, in salad dressings, etc.  You can use some more pasta water to thin it out to your desired consistency if needed.

Storage tips & tricks:
You can freeze pesto in an ice cube tray (put it inside a plastic zipper bag when freezing so pesto doesn’t get all over the place).  Once it’s frozen, you can pop out the cubes into that plastic zipper bag and store.  Use a cube to wake up sauces, soups, etc., or use multiple cubes to amp up your pesto power.

 My Precious.

Middle Eastern Pesto.

What is your favorite way to use pesto?


  1. Looks fantastic! I can't wait to mix up some pesto this summer. the mexican pesto flavor sounds great.

    1. Thanks!! Me, too! I can't wait for my CSA to start, I'm sure some weird pesto recipes will result ;-) XOXO