Today, I am writing about the fun of preparing food and not necessarily following the recipe. I didn’t have pine nuts or basil… but I still wanted to make pesto.
I had started experimenting with replacing basil with other greens some time ago. I first started with spinach, which was fun because it made the pesto look like such a bright green that it could have been a lawn. It was funny but it was yummy. So, last year was my first experience with community supported agriculture. I picked up a small box full of delicious produce from Becker Farms every other week. Although the box was called “small,” it was full of stuff. Usually, I got an email with a list of the stuff that I was going to get. It gave me a little heads’ up on the Frantic Recipe Search, especially when I got kohlrabi, beets, and other vegetables that, until that point, I had never prepared.
I was definitely unprepared, however, for the massive amounts of kale that I received throughout the growing season. In the middle of the growing season, I wondered if I might try using kale for pesto. I had already tried garlic scapes and that was delicious. I made kale pesto and discovered that it worked well as a substitute for basil in pesto. And, since I didn’t have any pine nuts, I replaced those with walnuts. That was a successful experiment, too. My experiments weren’t always successful. I tried replacing the pinenuts with pecans and that was awful. The pecans tasted bitter and the pesto remained unappetizing, despite the addition of a large quantity of lemon juice.
Today, I had a big container of a “spring mix” (organic).
The following items could be included: baby romain, baby chard, baby mizuma, radicchio, baby leaf lettuce, baby green leaf, baby oak leaf, baby arugula, baby spinach, and baby butter lettuce. I had walnuts, instead of pinenuts. The rest of the ingredients were the ones called for in the recipe: parmsan cheese, garlic cloves, and olive oil. I also add a little lemon juice because I think that brings out the flavor of the other ingredients. Garlic and lemon make everything better and never bitter.
All of the ingredients are prepared in a food processor. Once it was finished, I serve it on top of angel hair pasta. Another option would be to put the pesto on spaghetti squash, which is also a tasty combination.
It can also be used on bread or as a salad dressing. I’ve also tried mixing it into tuna fish and that was appetizing as well.
Today’s question: how do you like to adjust recipes so that you can use whatever you have on hand, but still come up with a tasty dish?
8 thoughts on “P is for pesto”
Hi Alice, I have tons of basil growing on our terrace, so I make a basil pesto with walnuts. And it tastes like dream. And there is a a way to retain the bright green colour. Beach the basil/spinach/rocket leaves for a few seconds in boiling hot water and then silly strain and grind. You will be amazed to see the beautiful green glow your pesto has.
Kale pesto sounds interesting. Got to give it a go sometime.
My husband (the family cook) adjusts recipes all the time. Some adjustments are due to Weight Watchers (one reason why we rarely eat pesto) and some are so good we've adopted them to his overall cooking. I never would have thought of substituting kale in pesto.
That looks delicious Alice! I'm always substituting ingredients in my recipes. I guess we could call it a one of a kind!
Lovely, it looks yummm…
I usually make my recipes with minimal ingredients available. My mom used to make food with whatever ingredients were available. Nice post.
I always view recipes as suggestions- maybe not even welcome ones. Yes, i experiment always (once a chemist, always a chemist?)
My recipes rarely follow the listed ingredients as I'm always missing something! So I just substitute. It's fun. Nothing ever turns out the same twice in a row! R is for retirement.
I think the most creative my son and I have gotten is using the shaker we had of parmesan cheese and the cheddar slices we hadn't opened yet when we realized we didn't have enough sauce for our pasta. I am amazed at all the successful substitutions you've made!
That pesto looks yummy! I am an adjuster when it comes to following a recipe. That attitude makes life so much easier for me. And after all, what's wrong with a little experimentation? 🙂