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Variations on Pesto

Hi food loving friends,

I have a ton of basil and I want to start "putting it up". I am planning on making this weekend a "pesto" weekend.

Does anyone have any great recipes for variations on the classic basil pesto (still using basil)?

What are your favorites?

Thanks!
Kat

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  1. I was reading a post on Elizabeth Minchilli's blog a couple of months ago and she posted a recipe for "Sicilian Pesto". I had never heard of such a thing (and my mother's side is Sicilian). It sounded delicious - basil, garlic, almonds, tomatoes & pecorino romano cheese. Wow! Well, I made it and it was ridiculously easy and my family and I fell in love. Here is a link to Minchilli's recipe:

    http://www.elizabethminchilliinrome.c...

    And here is a spin on Sicilian pesto done by Mario Batali... with the addition of mint and peppers to spice it up. I haven't made this one yet, but I want to:

    http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/recipe/mari...

    Yummm, Buon appetito!

    3 Replies
    1. re: lynnlato

      I am Italian and I prefer the "Sicilian Pesto" to the original one, it's very good. The original recipe for pesto calls for pine nuts not almonds or walnuts. I understand you can experiment with various nuts, I personally love walnuts :)

      1. re: lemony05

        Yea, my mom's side is Sicilian and we never had this growing up... I had never heard of this version. I follow Elizabeth Minchilli's blog and she posted about it and I fell in love. Delicious stuff! I'll bet it would be good with walnuts and even hazelnuts - yummm. :)

      2. re: lynnlato

        I actually prefer this version to Genovese!
        I think the reason many people here of Sicilian heritage haven't heard of it is that it's a very local dish from the northwest of Sicily. It's also known as pesto all'ericiana, Erice being the hill town towering over Trapani. The almonds should be toasted, and a pinch of hot pepper is appropriate in this one. And you can mix the pecorino right in.

      3. Combine
        1 bunch fresh basil
        4 cloves garlic
        4 Anchovies
        6 cherry tomatoes (peeled)
        1/3 cup olive oil
        freshly grated Fiore Sardo cheese (substitute Parmigiano Reggiano)
        salt
        pepper

        1. I made this pistachio pesto using basil instead of mint. It was fantastic and so unusual: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

          You can also throw olive oil and basil into the food processor and freeze the basil oil in ice cube trays to add a bit of summer to dinner later in the winter.

            1. pistachio is one of my favorite variations, but i see the others beat me to it!

              some other additions i like to use to put a new twist on it:
              - olives (green or black depending on your preference)
              - sun-dried tomatoes
              - chives
              - wild mushrooms
              - preserved lemon
              - artichoke hearts

              you can also substitute arugula or parsley for part of the basil to add a hint of bitterness.

              1. Just when we think we've cooked kale every which way along comes Kale Pesto... yes with basil...
                http://girlinthelittleredkitchen.com/...

                1 Reply
                1. re: Gio

                  I tried a kale pesto (with basil and almonds) and really liked it. I blanched the kale first, though, instead of using it raw.

                2. perhaps instead of pesto, make a "chimmichurri" except using basil instead of parsley/cilantro.

                  and not really a new take on pesto, but what i love using pesto for using as a spread on panini sandwhiches. ham and salami, your favorite cheese, tomato, and plenty of pesto. put in in a grill pan or panini press. exclellent quick lunch.

                  1. I'm jumping onto the pistachio bandwagon as well. I've made lemon-pistachio (with both lemon juice and some lemon zest)--omitted the cheese because I served it to a dairy-avoiding friend. I found it delicious!