If your fridge is anything like mine, you often have extra herbs that you purchased to go in a specific recipe but you have a bunch left over afterwards. And you say to yourself, I need to do something with these before they go bad!!!
My solution lately? Make pesto!!! It is great on a sandwich, as a dip with crackers or you can use it many recipes. It is a great way to take a bland and boring grilled chicken breast to a tasty salad topper.
The basic formula is: herb + nuts + cheese + garlic + olive oil. Now I like to add a few other "secret" ingredients that I will share more about in a moment. It takes minutes in a food processor or blender to do so not only it is tasty but is fast!
One of my experiments this past fall was with arugula. If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen my recipe that I posted on my professional page.
(If you don't follow me on Facebook, I would love it if you did!!! Just like my page: http://www.facebook.com/FoodFunandFriendswithJen and you can stay up today on what is going on in my world both professionally and in my home kitchen.)
I had an abundance of arugula at the time and I needed to figure out something to do with it to keep it from going to waste. Pesto was the concept that inspired me. However, I knew that arugula was a bit peppery so I would need to make a few modifications to the basic formula to come up with a yummy pesto.
I added parsley for a clean, fresh taste to balance out the arugula. I decided to use walnuts since I felt they would stand up to the arugula better than pine nuts. I also thought adding some citrus would enhance the pesto and bring out the flavors in the herbs. I also played with Worcestershire sauce and salt as seasonings. As far as the cheese, well, I can't say I had too much inspiration there as it was what was in the fridge. :) All, in all, it was deemed a success by my taste testers (a.k.a. a dinner party at friends where I shared my experiment)! I even had a two year old sweetie that thought it was yummy!
If you missed the recipe on Facebook, here it is:
Walnut, Parsley and Arugula Pesto
2/3 cups walnut, rough chopped
2 cups Italian flat leaf parsley (washed and dried)
2 cups baby arugula (washed and dried)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire
2 garlic cloves, rough chopped
1/2 cup Romano cheese, grated or shredded
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
juice of 1 large or 2 small lemons (to taste)
1/2 cup olive oil (adjust as necessary to desired consistency)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (to taste)
In your food processor or blender, combine all ingredients. Pulse to combine. Stream in olive oil slowly with motor running until blended. Taste and adjust seasonings (lemon and salt).
Since I developed the Walnut, Parsley and Arugula Pesto, when I have extra herbs, I have been using that basic formula above and modifying those 'secret" ingredients slightly based on the herbs to create a variety of pestos.
I have made a Basil-Walnut-Parmesan & Asiago pesto and a cilantro-pecan-lime (with no cheese) pesto. You may want to adjust the proportions above to your specific tastes; however, I hope that this inspires you to use those herbs in your fridge!! And, if you can't use the pesto immediately, you can freeze it for later in recipes.
I shared my the Basil-Walnut-Parmesan & Asiago pesto at the Every Chef's Trading Post event this past weekend at Hunt Club Farm along with my Pistachio-Basil Salmon Spread. However, I still have an abundance of basil in my fridge so tomorrow, I will be experimenting with using Manchego cheese and pecans with the basil. I think that will prove to be quite a tasty combination. Do you?