You may or may not already know all about pesto, which is traditionally a mixture of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, salt, and olive oil. Have you ever felt the need to bend the rules a bit in order to use what you already have on hand?
This is what happened last week when I decided that I wanted to use my new little mini food chopper to try and make homemade pesto. I had a nice little potted basil plant ready to be harvested in my kitchen, and I was pretty sure I had everything else too. Except, I didn’t actually have any pine nuts. And I didn’t have any Parmesan, unless you count the powdery stuff in the back of the fridge.
So I decided to put on my mad scientist hat and just play around a little with the ingredients I did have on hand. Since I also had fresh flat leaf parsley, I added in some of that with the basil. Instead of pine nuts, I found cashews. And instead of the Parmesan, I found feta. Not very authentic, I know!
But the end result was absolutely right up my alley. I love the flavor or basil, but I think sometimes it can take over EVERYTHING. Adding some flat leaf parsley, which more of a neutral herb, makes a pesto more like, oh hey basil, rather than HELLOO BASIL! The feta rounds it out with a nice creaminess, while still adding some of the saltiness that Parmesan would bring. And honestly, I don’t think you would ever know there where cashews in there instead of pine nuts. Sometimes it’s just nice to use up what you have on hand instead of buying a $7 bag of nuts!
You can also play with the amount of olive oil you add. Try processing all the other ingredients first, and then add the olive oil a little at a time. If you like it with some texture, like I do, stop pulsing a little early.
How do you like your pesto? Do you use traditional ingredients, or take liberties to make it your own?
I’ve got a fabulous recipe for Roasted Baby Potatoes with Pesto coming up later this week that uses this take on pesto in a new way, but in the meantime, try adding it to pasta (of course), and also eggs, soups, toasted bread, and grilled chicken. Don’t be afraid to bend the rules sometimes!
Did you make this recipe?
Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #lovelylittlekitchen
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- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley leaves
- 1/2 shallot
- 1–2 cloves garlic
- 1–2 tablespoons crumbled feta
- 1/4 cup cashews
- pinch of salt and pepper to taste
- 3–4 tablespoons olive oil
- Add all ingredients except olive oil to a food processor and process until you have a paste like consistency. Add olive oil and process until the desired thickness and texture is reached.
Always buy feta in a block whenever possible and crumble as you need it. I don’t know why but it tastes so much better than pre-crumbled!