Pesto Extravaganza

I love Pesto, that basil,sweet, savory, clingy topping to pasta.  The Hungry Girl, just perked up my appetite with her new Guilt free option, Gluten-free as well. It’s easy to grow your own Basil in the garden or a kitchen herb planter box. Freeze pesto for quick meals. Pesto is a NO-COOK sauce, really convenient, the addition of warm pasta or spaghetti squash releases the yummy savory aroma.

Hungry Girl‘s savory concoction omits most of the oil with Fat free Ricotta Cheese Pesto recipe,  maybe i”ll  try it tonight.

Steffie’s Basic Pesto for Pasta, or Spaghetti squash

  • 2 cups fresh Green Sweet Basil, thoroughly washed, stems removed. towel dried or spun
  • 1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil, preferred
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, Parmigiano Reggiano, or Romano
  • nuts are optional 1/4 cup Pignola(pine), Walnuts or almonds, pulsed or chopped fine
  • 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice, or juice from fresh squeezed. To preserve color
  • 1/2 teaspoon  salt optional
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, optional for a twist use a shallot

In a food processor, process basil, garlic, salt and 2 teaspoons of juice into a paste. Add oil and thoroughly blend, it should be thick and smooth. Add nuts and blend, add cheese last, the cheese can heat and melt if it is over processed. For thinner sauce add extra oil.

To serve,  cook your favorite pasta, drain return to pot or serving dish,  stir in desired amount of pesto.  The heat of the pasta will release all the flavors and aroma in the pesto, serve immediately. Serve with Extra grated cheese on the side. For a decadent flair add  1/4 cup of cream to a lb. of hot pasta, before adding the pesto. Reduce cream amount for smaller portions.

Pesto freezes well, to freeze, drizzle lemon juice or oil on top to avoid darkening and freezer burn from exposure to the air. An Ice cube tray works great for single servings. Another great use, the cubes can be added to a pasta sauce, still frozen to give it great Basil flavor.

Options

  • Purple Basil pesto, sub. 1/2 cup of Purple Basil
  • Spicy kick, add spicy Thai basil and a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Sun-dried tomato pesto,  add 1/4 cup well chopped sun-dried tomatoes to the basil leaves when processing.
  • Mediterranean version, 2 cups  Fresh parsley instead of Basil, 2 tablespoons fresh  Mint and 1 teaspoon dried  oregano,  add 3 tablespoons of lime juice instead of lemon, Feta cheese instead of Grated Italian cheese. Add a few seedless black olives for a variation.

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