Greetings, Patch readers. I recently acquired the September issue of Food Network Magazine (thanks, Dad), which, of course, got my heart racing with the endless possibilities for new recipes to try.
The issue contains a spread on mix and match pesto, which allows you to customize your pesto from several choices of nuts or seeds, vegetables or herbs, cheeses and seasonings. What a clever idea, I thought as I headed to Forest Hills' Trader Joe’s, magazine in hand, ready to whip up my own homemade pesto.
I selected sesame seeds, basil and arugula, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, Parmesan and sun-dried tomatoes for mine, but there are myriad possibilities to incorporate into your pesto.
For example, rather than parmesan, you can use asiago, pecorino, manchego, gruyere, smoked gouda or aged cheddar. Not a fan of sesame seeds? Then use pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios or sunflower seeds.
Mix and Match Pesto (Source: Food Network Magazine)
1. Pick a Nut or Seed from the Following:
Pine nuts, Almonds, Walnuts, Cashews, Pecans, Hazelnuts, Pistachios, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Pepitas
Toss 1/3 cup in dry skillet until lightly browned. Pulse in a food processor until finely ground.
2. Choose Your Base
Basil, Parsley, Cilantro, Mint, Collard Greens, Kale, Arugula, Watercress, Spinach, Romaine
Add 3 cups total
3. Choose Your Seasoning
Chopped Garlic, Grated Lemon Zest, Grated Orange Zest, Red Pepper Flakes, Fresh Thyme, Chopped Fresh Oregano, Chopped Fresh Tarragon, Chopped Fresh Rosemary
Add ½ to 1 teaspoon total of the aforementioned ingredients (choose up to three), add ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and pulse until finely chopped.
4. Pick a Cheese
Parmesan, Asiago, Grana Padano, Pecorino, Manchego, Gruyere, Aged or Smoked Gouda, Aged Cheddar
Grate ½ cup, add to the food processor and pulse to combine
5. Finish the Pesto
Slowly pour in ½ cup olive oil, pulsing to incorporate. Transfer to a bowl and stir in ¼ to ½ cup of the following (optional). This will yield one cup pesto, enough for one lb. of pasta.
Mascarpone, Chopped Sun-dried Tomatoes, Pitted and Chopped Olives, Chopped Roasted Red Peppers, Chopped Fresh Tomatoes, Ricotta