Don’t Cook? Make Pesto

Oh man, did I have a lot of herbs. And fresh herbs are so delicious and add such depth to any dish, but they can be hard to use up before they wilt and spoil. If you’re growing an herb garden at home, kudos to you! That’s the best way to enjoy fresh herbs year-round without over committing. But most of my veggies (and herbs too) come straight from the farm and when you’re dealing with farmers you kind of get what comes. And I got a lot. A lot of parsley; even more cilantro.

But after making salsa I still had way more cilantro than I knew what to do with. And I didn’t want the parsley to feel like it was getting overused since I kept adding it to almost every meal(herbs have feelings to, you know), so I decided to put each to good use by making pesto out of them.

Pesto, God love it, is just about the easiest thing to make. Ever. Some folks might like the little pre-mixed dried packet, but I’m convinced they just don’t know what they’re missing. If you have fresh herbs and olive oil, in 5 minutes you can have pesto.

–1 cup fresh parsley or cilantro
–3 TBSP olive oil
–1/2 lemon (juice only)
–2 cloves garlic

I’ll tell the rest of the recipe as a photoessay of sorts, because there really isn’t much of a “recipe” to making pesto…

I made my parsley pesto first, and then my cilantro pesto second. I chopped the stems off so that I just had the leaves (sure there were still some stems in there, but that’s okay) and dropped that into the blender/food processor. Could you chop these up by hand? Sure you could, but a blender or food processor is so much easier! I start with one cup of the chopped herbs.

I squeezed in the juice from the half of a lemon and tossed in a few garlic cloves. Then I added the olive oil, and blended it together. Making pesto involves the Goldilocks paradigm: If the pesto is too creamy, add more herbs; if it’s too piecey, add more olive oil. You want a texture and consistency that is just right.

I then scraped that into a tupperware and did a quick n’ dirty rinse of the food processor before I started over again with the cilantro. Now I got a little creative and beyond adding the lemon, garlic, and olive oil, I also add in a little cumin and some dried chili powder. No one said pesto couldn’t have a little kick to it…

Pesto is awesome on french bread as the base for bruschetta. You can make pizza with it. Get creative if you want to. Or don’t. I just slather mine on some pita or crackers and mix in some hummus.

Dammit Jim, I’m a cook, not a doctor…
Time: 10 minutes
Makes: 1 cup of each pesto

Calories*: Parsley Pesto 405; Cilantro Pesto 374

*Remember: In this case, the calorie count is for the entire container of pesto based on the measurements above. If you add more herbs the calories change a little, more olive oil and the calories could change a lot if you’re heavy handed. But you’ll be using this pesto in small amounts. A teaspoon here, a tablespoon there…

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One Comment

  1. E-Money
    Posted August 18, 2010 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    OK now. I'm going to try making yours, but I personally feel this version of vegan pesto is the best in the world. Seriously. I was eating it plain straight out of my fridge with a spoon last night. I love it with whole wheat pasta or with parmesan polenta + eggs over easy + shrimp sauteed/tossed in this pesto (topped with crumbled bacon or pancetta of course). Or spread on a toasted baguette. Or straight into my mouth with a spoon. I can't stay away.

    ++++++++++++ Erin's Killer Pesto +++++++++
    1-2 cloves of garlic
    3-4 tbsp shelled pistachios
    1 cup fresh spinach
    1 cup basil
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp pepper
    (the above measurements are an estimate)

    Throw garlic (I use 2 cloves, normal people may only want one) and pistachios in a chopper/food processor. Chop really well. Then add a bunch of fresh spinach (I use 1 really packed cup) and basil (I use 1 cup), olive oil, salt, and pepper. Blend it all into a delicious pesto. Keep adding olive oil and salt and pepper as needed for consistency and flavor.

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