Pesto is a such a beautiful thing. Toss it in hot pasta or over warm veggies, swirl it into ricotta for a dip, use as the base sauce for a pizza, or slather it on sandwiches and burgers for extra umph.
What most people don't know is that pesto can be made out of a variety of different things - arugula, basil, kale, sun-dried tomatoes, turnip greens, swiss chard, cilantro, carrots tops, mint, parsley, spinach, you name it! Or a mixture of those. Some recipes call for walnuts and others use pine nuts, some call for sun flower seeds, some call for them to be toasted, the variations go on and on, but the one thing to keep in mind is that pesto has a ratio. Though even it is open to interpretation, as I don't always use nuts or seeds.
The basic ratio is 1:2:2:8 (1 part nuts/seeds, 2 parts oil, 2 parts grating cheese, 8 parts leaves or herbs), plus garlic, lemon, and salt and pepper to taste.
Basic Pesto Recipe
1-2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
2 cups packed leaves
1/2 cup oil (EVOO, avocado, walnut, flax?)
1/4 cup nuts (optional)
1/2 cup salty, hard, grated cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino, Asiago, Romano, Grana Padano, or Roncal)
1/2 lemon juiced
salt & pepper
Blend the garlic, leaves, oil, and nuts in a food processor (or even grind with a mortar and pestle if in a pinch). Add the cheese and pulse a few times to combine. Add the squeeze of half a lemon and season with salt and pepper. whirl again. taste. season again if necessary. Too thick? Add a bit more oil. Too thin? Add more leaves and cheese.