Do you grow herbs in your garden? I do but I cook a lot less in the summer so I end up with more herbs than I can handle! A great way to use up a bunch of herbs in one shot is by making a pesto. And let me tell you food blogs are all about pesto right now! I am so amazed by the creativity and variety of pesto out there.
I combined a few recipes to make my own version. I live in a highrise and I have sun only after 3 pm. It can be a challenge for herbs to grow in abundance but mint it never an issue. So of course my pesto with be mint heavy. Check out my Mint Basil Pistachio Pesto recipe.
I have so much mint I put it on dishes for decoration, brew it for iced tea, add a few bruised leaves in my water pitcher, infuse it for mint ice cream, etc. When I thought of making a mint pesto I was worried the “minty-ness” would be too intense for a dish. Well I compensated with adding a bit of basil. And I had no pine nuts on hand but I did have a handful of pistachios, one of me favorite nuts.
A traditional pesto is a sauce originating in Genoa, in the Liguria region of northern Italy, and it consists of crushed garlic, basil, pine nuts, olive oil, Parmesan and Fiore Sardo (a cheese made from sheep’s milk). Modern twists are a lot of fun too. Go ahead and experiment when making pesto. The key to making a successful recipe is by using fresh ingredients; from the herbs, to the nuts, to the cheese and also the olive oil.
I know a lot of people would not think a high quality olive oil would make such a difference but once you have tested a few it is an absolute must. The cheap stuff at the corner store has nothing on a higher grade olive oil. This pesto recipe was the perfect opportunity to test out a wonderful grand cru olive oil sent to me by Olive & Olives, a store specialized in exceptional olive oils, vinegars and pantry gifts.
The Pago de Queiles Olive Oil, a 2013 vintage, is a special edition oil produced for the store’s 10th anniversary. This Spanish organic olive oil comes from the Hacienda Queiles, located in the valley of Queiles. This oil consists of arbequina olives, a small and round Catalan olive, and the arroniz olives of Navarra. Full-bodied and velvety, the oil will unveil at first sweet and fruity notes, which will be followed by a slight bitterness, and a nice spicy finish.
Please note that top shelf olive oils should never be heated. They are made for pesto, salad dressings, drizzling, and dipping. The Pago de Queiles Olive Oil was ideal for this Mint Basil Pistachio Pesto recipe. The main flavor is delicate enough to combine the herbs and nuts without altering their taste, and the spicy finish just added a perfect punch to the kick of the mint and cheese. The result worked beautifully over a bowl of pasta.
What herbs would one find in your garden? And what kind of olive oil do you use?
Pesto is a great way to improve your eating habits. We all know olive oil is a good fat for the body. But do you know which others are? Are you up on all the latest research and best advice to make an impact on your health? And are you compromising your health by eating out too much? Moulinex.ca has come up with an exciting challenge for Canadians. Make sure to sign up for this in September!