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Basil leaves, garlic cloves, pine nuts, lemons, parmesan cheese, pesto with text Homemade Pesto Recipes.
February 23, 2023 Condiments, For a Potluck, Recipes, Tasty DIY, Uncategorized

Homemade Pesto Recipes

As we head into garden planning & planting season, it’s a great time to also arm yourself with some tasty recipes that will help you enjoy some flavors that grow best and are at their best in the early spring or summer, before things get too hot, or plants bolt. These homemade pesto recipes will help you preserve the goodness of spring, and allow you to enjoy the flavors of more assertive greens in smaller doses. If you preserve a lot of tomatoes or tomato sauces, the addition of a few good pesto options to your stockpile will make putting those preserved tomatoes to use even more enjoyable (and easy!).

Pesto is a versatile product to have on hand all year long. It is very easy to make, can be made in small batches with a surprisingly wide array of flexibility in ingredients, and can be frozen. Add it to salads, turn basic tomato sauces into amazing sauce, stir into white sauce for an instant transformation in taste, use as a sandwich condiment, use as the flavor part in a marinade, add it to pizza, bruschetta, or thinned with olive oil for dipping bread.

Basic Recipe for Pesto

  • Fresh Greens (about 2 cups),
  • Nuts (about 1/2 cup),
  • Aged, Salty Cheese (about 2oz)
  • Olive Oil (to your preference)

Here’s where it gets interesting…by making your own homemade pesto, you can make swaps with the greens, the nuts and the cheese. You can change up the flavor profile by adjusting the specific greens, nuts and cheeses, and by adding herbs. Below are a few ways to get started. Remember…these are not written in stone…so if you’re trying to make sustainable choices, you might want to stick with the quality Parmesan (or other good, aged hard cheese) that you have on hand.

Freshness Counts! Some tips to make the best version of your pesto:

  • Take a moment to toast (and cool) those nuts. The process of toasting adds depth to the flavor. Cooling is important so that the heat doesn’t soften any of your other ingredients.
  • Using a food processor is great…but be careful not to over-process. Leave some texture!
  • Grate your cheese! Use the fine side. Again….you want to maintain some texture.
  • Olive oil…Be sure to use quality, fresh, and add extra if you think it might be too thick. If you’re using it right away, let the purpose of your pesto determine how thin or thick you make it. If you plan to freeze it, don’t make it too thick, as the oil will help to surround the ingredients and protect it until you thaw it.

Homemade Pesto Recipes for Inspiration

  • The Classic Pesto: Basil, Pine Nuts, Garlic, Parmesan & Olive Oil
  • The Provencal Pesto: Baby Greens, Thyme, Lavender buds (or you could use rosemary leaves), Almonds, Pecorino Cheese
  • The Minty Arugula: Arugula, Mint leaves, Hazelnuts, Manchego
  • The Popeye Oregano: Spinach, Oregano, Walnuts, Asiago

A little goes a long way! If you are freezing your homemade pesto, we recommend jars on the smaller side – 8oz or smaller. It will depend somewhat on how (and how often) you think you’ll be using the frozen pesto. If you plan to gift it with a loaf of freshly made bread, you might want to go with a 2oz or 4oz jar. If you plan to use it fairly regularly for dipping, you might opt for spooning it into an ice cube tray to freeze it, then pop the cubes into a plastic bag or quart jar. This will allow you to grab a portioned pod.

Are you a fan of herbs? Check out some of our other Herb-centric posts:

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