This quick and easy Pesto Guide is my savior when it comes to making pesto in a pinch...
We all need a Pesto Guide
When you think of pesto, what comes to mind? It is likely that you immediately imagine a beautiful green Pesto alla Genovese, made of basil, pine nuts, garlic, cheese, and olive oil.
There is a reason this specific pesto is the most well known pesto; it's delicious. Nutty and herby are two truly incredible elements of any dish. My only, very small, issue with Pesto Genovese is its lack of acidity. I love acidic foods, especially alongside herbs.
I also typically find myself substituting the pine nut for something else, something cheaper, let's be frank. The walnut is probably the most versatile nut there is, and I've found the most delicious ones come from California, so I often use these, but any nut will do.
And while we're on the topic of substitutions, are you someone who always has some type of herb in your kitchen, but maybe that herb isn't always basil? Same here. I've made so many pestos, and I can confirm that almost any other herb and even vegetables work if substituted correctly.
Possible Substitutions to the Pesto Guide
Use this pesto guide as a reference regarding ratios of herbs:nuts:oil. Then use whatever types of herbs/nuts/oil you like best. You might even find yourself using different acidity and umami boosters than the recommended lemon and parmesan cheese.
- Parsley; pistachios. (The one in the lasagna above)
- 50/50 broccoli rabe and basil; walnuts. (this post's featured image)
- 50/50 parsley and dill; pine nuts
Though I don't keep a vegan diet, I have found that certain pesto variations simply don't require cheese. Therefore, I wrote two vegan pesto recipes for this site. Both are quite unique and so flavorful.
- The first is Wasabi Pesto. It calls for this pesto guide's formula, but changes many of the ingredients. For instance, it calls for nutritional yeast, which adds a very interesting burst of umami without the cheese.
- The second is Vegan Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto, which gets all of its umami from sun-dried tomatoes and black garlic.
If you're going to use this pesto guide to try some of the combinations I mentioned above, you will need a food processor! I use this Cuisinart 8-cup processor, which is available on Amazon. It's very efficient.
Pesto: A Guide
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Vegetarian, pasta, toppings
- Method: Pesto
- Cuisine: Italian
Every chef needs a good pesto guide! Read the recipe and play around with different combinations of nuts, oils, and soft or hearty greens.
- ⅓c toasted nuts, any kind you like
- The juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 2 oz parmesan cheese
- 1 bunch of fresh herbs, arugula, spinach, or other tender greens; OR a bunch of more fibrous greens or vegetables that have been blanched and wrung dry; OR a combination of both
- 2 cloves of garlic, grated
- Salt, pepper, cayenne for seasoning
- ½ cup or more of olive oil
- Place everything except for the olive oil in a large food processor and pulse until all the ingredients are finely chopped, stopping to scrape down the sides as often as necessary.
- Then process on low, and with feed tube uncovered, stream in the olive oil very slowly. If it still resembles a paste after you've streamed in ½ cup, add more until it looks smooth, more like a thick, glossy smoothie. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Keywords: Pesto Guide
Made this pesto recipe into a delicious pasta! Loved the versatility of this recipe; I didn’t have a whole bunch of one herb but I had a handful of parsley, basil and arugula left in my fridge so I used it all up! The pesto was so fresh and lemony!
Gianna Nebbia says
That's awesome! Thanks for your feedback!