Column: Pesto palette

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Classic basil pesto is my go-to ingredient that is always in my pantry. Making a variety of pesto from the last of the herbs growing in your garden can open up your eyes to the delights of this great range of flavors. Not only does pesto work magic with pasta but it can act as dips and spreads on a range of other items. Let your imagination work on trying new things for fall.

Classic basil pesto

Pulse 2 1/2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves, 1/3 cup finely shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, 1 large clove garlic, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a food processor until coarsely chopped, scraping down the sides. With the motor running, add 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil and process until well combined, scraping down the sides.

Try it drizzled over tomato salad.

Parsley Caper Pesto

Pulse 2 cups firmly-packed parsley leaves (about 2 bunches), 1/3 cup slivered almonds, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 3 tablespoon each lemon juice and rinsed capers, 1 small clove garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a food processor until coarsely chopped, scraping down the sides. With the motor running, add 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil and process until well combined, scraping down sides.

Try a dollop on grilled fish.

Roasted Tomato Pesto

Halve and seed 1 2/3 pounds plum tomatoes (6-8 medium). Place them cut-side up on a baking sheet; drizzle with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Roast at 300 F until shriveled and brown on the bottom, 1 1/2  to 1 3/4 hours. Let cool for about 15 minutes. Transfer to a food processor. Add 3 tablespoons each finely shredded Grana Padano cheese and toasted pine nuts, 1 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, 1 small clove garlic, 1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Pulse until well combined, scraping down the sides.

Try swapping out for pizza sauce.

Beet and Arugula Pesto

Wrap 1 small beet (about 3 oz.) in foil and roast at 400 F until tender, 40-50 minutes. Cool, peel and cut into chunks. Transfer to a food processor and add 2 1/2 cups firmly packed arugula, 1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans, 1 large clove garlic, 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pulse until coarsely chopped, scraping down sides. With motor running, add 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil and process until well combined, scraping down sides.

Try it spread on crostini.

Pesto Trapanese

Pulse 1 1/2 cups yellow or red cherry tomatoes (about 6 oz.), 8 large basil leaves, 3 tablespoons toasted whole almonds, 1 small clove garlic, 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh chili pepper (or to taste) and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a food processor until finely chopped, scrapping down sides. With the motor running, add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and process until well combined, scraping down sides.

Try it with whole-wheat pasta.

Pesto will keep in the refrigerator for about a week. Or better yet, freeze small portions in an ice cube tray, then transfer to a sealable plastic bag. Defrost as needed.

Each recipe makes about 1 cup.

(Source: Eating Well)

Susan Woody has been a home and garden writer for more than 20 years and is a master gardener.

By |Sep. 19, 2015|

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