The basil in my garden had been doing a lot of complaining lately. Every time it would create a flower, I’d pinch it off, knowing that I really needed to do something the basil. So this week I got my act together and made some pesto. This time I wanted to do a little experiment with it, so I bought three different types of nuts to use as ingredients. Someone at the Coop once told me they heard it was good made with sunflower seeds. I ended up buying the pine nuts, sunflower seeds, and walnuts to try. One reason I did this is because I know how expensive pine nuts can be and if I could make it just as well with a cheaper nut, then all would be golden. I used the Pioneer Woman’s recipe, since I’ve used it before and it was good. Pesto is really simple to make if you have a food processor. Although, the quality of your pesto will really depend on your ingredients, so make sure you get the good Parmesan, and good olive oil. And don’t let your basil start bolting (going to seed) like I did mine. Also, I think getting the block cheese and grating it yourself is better.
I also went all out and made 4 loaves of french bread to go with it. In all reality, only do this if you’re bored and have lots of time. It has to rise 3 different times and for a total of 5 hours!
Overall, all three nuts were nearly the same taste wise. The sunflowers made the pesto considerably thicker and more like a paste, and I didn’t think it tasted quite as good. I think the walnuts were a better substitute. I think there would more taste of the nuts if I had toasted them lightly beforehand. So, it’s okay to use other nuts when making pesto! Just make sure that you like that nut and the taste of your other ingredients, cause it really does matter!
1 C. basil
1/2 C. grated parmesan
3 TBS. nuts
1/3 C. extra virgin olive oil (or more based on how it’s mixing)
2 garlic cloves
salt and pepper
You basically put everything but the oil in the processor, start it, and then begin pouring in the olive oil. You want to mix it really well.
To store pesto, you want to put it in as small of a container as possible, since it will brown. Get the air pockets out of it and smooth the top. Pour a little olive oil over the top to seal it and avoid contact with oxygen which oxidizes it. It will last several days. You can also freeze it for several months. I’ve seen people freeze it as ice cubes.