I first fell in love with pesto a long time ago. I’ll never forget the first time I tried a freshly made basil pesto sauce recipe – it was heaven. Now it is always a staple in my kitchen and it depends on the season as to what flavor combination it is. The kids love it too, so between pesto and pasta there is always a quick meal option available.
Apart from being a crowd pleaser, there are plenty of other reasons to love pesto:
- Very easy to make
- A great way to use up extra herbs when they are in abundance
- Stores well.
Pesto Sauce Recipe
The key to making any great pesto sauce recipe is to not only use fresh ingredients, but to understand there are essentially 4 key ingredient groups that go into making any pesto sauce:
- Herb or vegetable – Don’t just think the obvious basil here. Other great herbs for pesto are coriander, parsley and mint. You can also go beyond herbs and try vegetables such as spinach, olives, sundried tomatoes and char grilled capsicum.
- Nuts – Again, there are no real boundaries here. Walnuts, pine nuts, cashews, pistachios, almonds and peanuts are just some to try.
- Oil – Usually olive oil for the flavor, but other oils can also be tried here. Sometimes a more neutral flavor may be required so grapeseed oil would be good.
- Optionals – This is where you can really create some different flavours, even if the first three ingredients remain the same. Garlic is in most, but not all pesto (many would argue it isn’t an optional ingredient but a necessity). Two other ingredients that are common ‘optionals’ include chilli and cheese (usually parmesan).
Once the ingredients are sorted out, all you need to do is whizz everything together (except the oil) in a food processor. A mortar and pestle can also be used and the pesto will have a lovely chunky texture. When the ingredients are chopped well, drizzle in the oil and whizz a bit more. Hey Presto – you have Pesto!
Recently I’ve started playing around with some different flavours of pesto and the following Coriander Pesto with Chilli is a fine example of this experimentation.
1 ½ cups fresh coriander leaves
1/3 cup unsalted peanuts
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 long red chilli, chopped
1/3 cup rice bran oil
2 teaspoons lime juice
Heat a small saucepan on low heat. Add the peanuts and toast gently until lightly browned. Remove and cool.
Add coriander, peanuts, garlic, chilli and lime juice to food processor (or mortar and pestle). Process until almost smooth, scraping down the sides a couple of times.
While the motor is running, drizzle in the oil in a slow, steady stream. Process until well combined. Season to taste. Store and use as required.
The Klutzy Cook Notes
Any type of oil on hand can be used, although one with a fairly neutral flavor is preferred for this recipe.
If not using straight away, the pesto can be stored as follows. For the fridge – spoon into a sterilized jar, cover pesto surface with a thin layer of oil and seal. For the freezer – spoon into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, pop out of tray and store in ziplock bags.
I hope you have some fun experimenting with different pesto flavours. Please let us know what flavours you have tried and enjoyed.