Foodie Friday - Pesto Manifesto!!

To celebrate the return of Foodie Friday, we shall begin with one of my all-time faves, Pesto!

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Pesto is a simple green sauce/topping/gift from heaven, classically made from fresh basil.

It may be a bit early for basil around these parts (southeastern Pennsylvania) but there are a lot of other leafy greens that can substitute . According to one of my most favorite foodies books ever*, you can use arugula, carrot tops, cilantro, mint, kale or chard. I have even used chickweed which grows abundantly around my yard. Fabu!

My friend, Puddy Clark, up in Vermont - in lieu of having the fresh available this early - used dried basil for her lunch yesterday. Her recipe included: "my own garlic that over grew and didn't pick last year about 10 stalks, 1/4 cup of dried basil, 'cause my own isn't up yet, a handful of walnuts, organic, a little sea salt and pepper, 1/4 to 1/2 cup og parmazan cheese. Put all of this in food processor and start then add olive oil to the consistency you like. Pesto!"

Puddy's recipe is fairly classic, but I highly recommend experimenting. Toasted pine nuts are typically used, or sunflower seeds, instead of walnuts, but all are good.

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*Regarding the book - it's a shame it's so pricey on Amazon - I got a few of them some years ago for $14.95, and then it went out of print. Hopefully you can find this more reasonably elsewhere...

The author, Isabel Nazzaro (a 'self-confessed, over-the-top basil aficionado' and is pictured on the back playing violin to her prolific basil patch) is a woman after my own heart.

The book starts with a brief primer in the history and folklore of basil, how to grow it successfully, and includes 'garlic pesticide' (LOL - I almost typed pestocide...)

Among her many adventurous recipes are: Pesto Gazpacho, Basil Mayonnaise, even Pesto Mocha Cheesecake! (Oh, her ever-so-patient and fortunate husband...!)

It's enough to make me want to convert my entire acre into a basil farm. Don't think I haven't considered it...! (Now, where to get a violin...)

Here's a variation of Isabel's, using arugula:

  • 1 1/2 cup arugula
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish
  • 2 tablespoons cashews or walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese

As with her other pesto recipes, Nazzaro suggests placing the garlic at the bottom of the blender or food processor, packing the greens on top, then the rest of the ingredients. It's important not to grind too long - the leaves and nuts should just be broken up, not pulverized like baby food.

Do you have any favorite variations, or uses for pesto, or even basil? Hit the 'comment' link above and share with all of us!

** Foodie Friday is a regular feature, in line with my mission. If you have a recipe or food recommendation based on local/organic/seasonal food you'd like to contribute, drop me a line with what you have, where you're from, and any interesting info about your recipe.**