So let's start with a basic pesto recipe:
- 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese
Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.
If freezing, transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and stir in cheese.
***For the ideas below we're substituting most of the ingredients for the basil but feel free to go half and half.***
Garlic scapes: Not sure what garlic scapes are? Don't worry you're not alone! Scapes are the above-ground central stalk of a garlic plant. They taste like garlic but are mild enough to eat alone and have a textural quality like green onions. Walnuts are the perfect nut component to add to this addition of pesto.
Parsley: The best part about parsley is it helps keep the pesto more bright and green than basil. But feel free to use it as an addition to the basil too.
Corn: This one blew my mind! Using sweet corn that has been cooked in bacon fat makes an AWESOME sauce for pasta.
Kale: Since kale is a super food why not incorporate it into a pesto that you can serve on top of your favorite pasta or turn it into a salad dressing.
Beets: Don't let the crazy pink color fool you, but beets are such an AWESOME addition to a pesto. You can either use fresh cooked beets or even the pickled canned beets. Either are a perfect summer treat!
Cilantro, Thyme, Mint, Tarragon: This bevvy of beautiful herbs can be used either one at a time to showcase each herb individually or you can do some awesome combos with a couple of different herbs together or get super daring and try them all in one pesto! For the mint and tarragon I like to add a squeeze of lemon juice for some added freshness!