The original pesto a la Genovese is made with: basil, pine nuts, oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pecorino, garlic and salt. It is quite oily and salty, thanks to the cheese. As the name indicates, pesto is a traditional Genovese condiment. With time, it has taken a thousand different forms and there are endless variations of it out there.
Following recipes can be useful, but the more creative you get cooking, the more fun you have and freedom you feel. As I mentioned in my red pesto recipe, there is a basic “skeleton” or foundation to help you create your own pesto:
- Cheese (fat, salt)
My version of the traditional pesto uses cashews (instead of pinenuts), there is no cheese (to make it vegan and slightly less salty) and instead of just using oil as the liquid binder, I use water too. This can make it creamier (less nutty) and softer, depending on how much you use, of course. I also added some lemons zest, as I read it in a recipe online and loved the nice sourness. You could also use a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar, it goes quite well too!
Although I love making the pesto myself I admit I sometimes buy it in the store too if I can’t find the fresh basil anywhere. The one thing I make sure then is to check that the pesto is made with as few ingredients as possible and that no sugars or additives have been used. Most use very little basil, not the best oil (and lots of it) or may contain added and unnecessary ingredients. Making it yourself is a cheap and easy way though, and it can last in your fridge for up to a week if you keep it in a sealed container.
How to eat it? The question would probably be: how to not eat it? You can have it with almost anything savoury. I used it in my prawns & asparagus pasta, in the halloumi & glazed onions sandwich and you could slice up some tomatoes and eat them with green pesto spread, mozzarella… The options are endless.
If you make it let me know how it went on the comment or contact section.
Recipe: Green pesto
Total time: 10 mins
Notes: quantities are approximate and flexible, based on how I like my green pesto to taste and feel. Use a regular glass if you don’t have a measuring cup.
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup cashews
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
- Salt & Pepper
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- Water, more or less depending on how creamy or nutty/crunch you want it to be.
For this recipe, you will need a food processor or hand blender. Alternatively, you can do it in the traditional way with a mortar and pestle, and some patience too.
- Chop garlic cloves and remove the germ (heart). Add to the food processor.
- Add the basil, oil, cashews and salt&pepper.
- Pour water gradually until you reach the desired texture.
This pesto goes well with almost anything!
- As a dip with crackers or crudités
- On a toast or sandwich
- In a quesadilla
- With pasta (the real kind, or the veggie kind!)
Each serving = 1 tsp