Monday, June 4, 2012

{Ubiquitous Dish}: Pesto

Ubiquitous is a one of my favorite words, I like the way it puckers my lips to say it. But I had to look up the definition before starting this post: 

Ubiquitous: adjective; Present, appearing, or found everywhere. 

Sometimes I have a great recipe to blog about or I think I have this really original twist on a classic to share with you guys; And then I go to the Google Machine {a.k.a just Google} and find that I am in fact the 1079th person to write about this dish on one of a bajillion food blogs. Sadly this usually keeps me from sharing the dish. Well, I just can't keep doing that to myself or to you. Let's cover the classics, we don't even need to make 'em special or fancy or unicorn magical, let's just make them! 

Oh, pesto, you lovely ubiquitous classic! You jazz up pasta and rice. You're delicious on pizza, on bruschetta, on very small rocks. Just kidding about the rocks thing, Pesto, you are really quite swell and I love that you freeze well. 

One of the best things about staple recipes is they usually have a formula that once mastered, you can tweak to your taste or the season. Pesto's formula is: leafy green + nuts + hard cheese + aromatic root + oil and salt. These rules aren't even hard and fast. There are probably hundreds of combinations based on this formula, but I didn't do the math. I don't like math.

Fine, here are a few suggestions: 

  • Basil, pinenuts, Parmesan, garlic, and olive oil are classic. 
  • Cilantro, peanuts, pecorino, ginger, and half olive oil and half sesame oil is crazy delicious on rice under stir-fry.
  • Parsley, cashews, manchego,garlic, and a toasted nut oil is awesome on grilled fish.
  • Jalapeno, cilantro, pepitas, cotija, roasted garlic and a spice olive oil are also muy beuno. 

Basil and Walnut Pesto 
makes about a cup 

Today I had a ton of basil, some parsley, but couldn't find pinenuts at the store. I had a handful of walnuts in the freezer and some pecorino in the fridge. Pesto is working with what you've got. Use this as a ratio guide. 

2 large cloves of garlic
2 ounces Pecorino or other hard cheese
1/3 cup walnut pieces 
3 cups fresh basil leaves
1 cup parsley leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, totally optional 
1/2 cup olive oil 

Pulse the garlic cloves, cheese, and walnuts into crumbs in a food processor or blender. Add the herbs and salt and process until mostly smooth, stopping to scrap down the sides of the carafe as needed. With the machine running, stream in the sesame oil, following by the olive oil and continue to blend until smooth. 

Pesto will keep very well in the fridge, but dose it into ice cubes trays, freeze and then store in a zippy bag in the freezer it will last basically forever. 

The many uses of Pesto: 

  • Pasta obviously, but note that a 1/2 cup of pasta water tossed with the pesto and pasta is best. 
  • As pizza sauce
  • Mixed in ricotta for lasagna, pizza again, or as a dip 
  • Stirred into yogurt as sauce for falafel or as a marinade for grilled chicken
  • In scrambled eggs, mixed into butter for fried eggs, added to baked eggs, over or under poached eggs 
  • Duke's + basil on ANY sandwich
  • Shaken with more olive oil and red wine vinegar for a quick salad dressing 
  • Pesto + popcorn and a glass of wine totally counts as dinner
Need more pesto ideas? here are a few of the bajillion other food bloggers who've covered it: 

I'd love to hear how you make pesto or how you like to eat - and did you know that every time you comment a cupcake get its sprinkles?


  1. I love pesto SO much. Pregnancy has given me some wicked heartburn, especially when I eat tomatoes. But I wasn't about to give up pizza. Or eat pizza with no sauce. No sir! So I started putting pesto on it and now I don't think I'll ever go back.

    1. Hey Trish!

      I'd love to tell you the heartburn gets better as you get more pregnant, but it doesn't, sorry. The best thing to do is avoid the foods that aggravate it - so pesto pizza for you for a while. Its so worth it though.

  2. Pest is so versatile! And done before or not, this pesto recipe is unicorn magical to me! Thanks!

    1. Hooray for unicorns, I say! Thanks for stopping by I hope you enjoy the pesto.

  3. Hi Meghan, wow thanks for all the pesto info! I am a massive pesto fan! I like the formula you came up with - it makes perfect sense! And now I feel like I must really try pesto with popcorn!

    1. You're so welcome Clare. You know what else is delicious on popcorn? Nutritional yeast! It taste like cheese and if FULL of nutrients with fewer calories.

  4. Ooooh I didn't realize pesto froze so well. Should I put it in a zipper bag, or is there a better way to store it? How long do you think I could keep it in there? Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. I like to freeze it in ice cube trays until solid then remove and store in a zip-top bag. That way you can take out as little as you need and save the rest. Typically we say prepared sauce last 3 months in the freezer, but if your freezer is full (so it stays nice and cold, isn't defrosting a lot) you can keep it as long as 6 months. Have fun!