Pesto is one of my favorite things to make with any herbs or greens that I happen to have an abundance of.  It’s easy, delicious and you can put it in and on so many things!  I think it’s important to mention that I am being pretty liberal in my use of the term “pesto”.  Pesto traditionally refers to the classic recipe of basil, pine nuts, garlic and Parmesan cheese.  While the creative combos I come up with venture outside these traditional ingredients, I think the word “pesto” gives you a good idea what I am talking about.  I’m talking about taking just about any aromatic green or herb, mixing it with something savory and then blending it with oil to create a green paste.  The possibilities are damn near endless!!

The accountant in me just loves a good matrix.  It’s an easy and organized way to get a bird’s eye view of the information that’s most important to me.  I’ve done them for breakfast bowls and toasts and now I’ve come up with one for pestos!  Print out or bookmark this easy to use cheat sheet as a guide to develop your own amazing pesto creations!

 

Pesto Matrix diagram

 

If you still aren’t convinced, here are four pestos that I came up with using this grid and a different application for each.

aromatic greens for pesto

Nothing like a big pile of fragrant greens to get me in the mood to make pesto.

Traditional pesto is made with pine nuts but that doesn’t mean you can’t play around with it.  I always have a wide variety of raw nuts in my freezer so that I can use them in all sorts of dishes.  I can toast them, candy them, blend them into a paste or flour, use them to thicken soups or make a variety of pestos.

nuts for pesto

I highly recommend starting a collection of raw nut meats in your freezer. I can’t tell you how handy these come in.

There is also no “right” way to blend up your pesto.  I love to use my food processor for larger quantities but sometimes for a small batch that I’m just using for myself, I use the immersion blender and a small jar.  Blenders also work great for making pesto.  Use what you got.

pesto in food processor

For this pesto I combined dill, sunflower seeds, kalamata olives, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil in the food processor.

 

pesto ingredients in jar with immersion blender

For this guy, I had a small quantity of the carrot tops and didn’t want to make more than I needed so I scaled the recipe down and blended it in this small jar. Yet another reason to love pestos… they are completely scalable!!

A lot of pesto recipes call for large bunches of greens that yeild a cup or more of sauce.  But sometimes I just want a single serving amount of sauce or I just don’t have that large of a quantity of herbs or greens to make that exact recipe.  But recipes are just guides after all and you can totally scale these up or down depending on the quantity of ingredients you have to work with or the amount of sauce you want to end up with.

four different pesto recipes

Here are four different takes on pesto that I did. The one that is front and center used ramps, Parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil and pistachios.  It was so damn good.

And now for the really fun part.  Here are some of the fun ways you can use your pesto!!  It doesn’t just have to be pasta!!!  It can be oh so many things!!

ASIAN PESTO WITH SOBA NOODLES

But first… noodles. Of course I had to do a noodle dish. But for this pesto I used peanuts, sesame oil, cilantro, basil, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. I tossed it with cooked soba noodles and garnished with some green onions and it was AMAZING!!

pesto corn muffins

The next thing I did was throw some garlic scape pesto into these corn muffins. The sweet and the savory were a nice combo.

carrots with carrot top pesto

Carrot top pesto has to be one of my all time favorites. I don’t know why it’s so damn good but it is and it tastes especially lovely smothered all over the roasted carrots from whence they grew.

 

pesto in soup

You could really throw this in any soup but I especially like it in a veggie puree. This was a cauliflower soup that I garnished with a fennel top pesto. This is a great answer to the question “What am I going to do with all these veggies?!” on FarmBox day.

So now you are armed with a matrix of possibilities!  Have fun with it, play around and most of all, enjoy!

Delightful Recipe

Pesto Matrix diagram

four kinds of pesto

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