Variations on a Classic

We all know it. We all love it. Basil pesto with it’s intense basil flavor — a touch of sweet, a touch of licorice — toasted pine nuts, Parmigiano Reggiano, garlic and a really good olive oil with a dash of pepper. Blend it all up and become an instant epicurean.

But what happens when you decide to change things up a bit, try a new herb, nut, or even oil? It’s like instant epicurean innovation — a recipe for new exciting flavors. How about starting with oregano, cilantro, mint or rosemary? There are also some interesting varieties of basil, like lemon, cinnamon or lime. Try them all!

Switch your toasted pine nuts to toasted cashews or walnuts (often a cheaper way to go), pecans or almonds. Then, try using avocado or grapeseed oil … the possibilities are endless. So where to start? In general, if you are using a sweeter nut like cashews or the herb is delicately flavored, like parsley, less garlic. Don’t be afraid to get inventive. We’ve even made pesto from the pervasive garlic mustard plant, which is considered a weed in most places. One cook’s weed is another cook’s secret ingredient!

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Oregano (you need a lot) or mint, walnuts & olive oil
  • Cilantro, cashews & avocado oil
  • Celery leaves, parsley, pistachios & grapeseed oil
  • Rosemary, almonds & palm oil
  • Tarragon, hazelnuts & olive oil
  • Arugula, pecans & sunflower oil
  • Lemon balm, pine nuts & olive oil

We’ve yet to try sesame or peanut oil, maybe with lemongrass and peanuts? We’re leafin’ it up to you!