We’re Cooking: A Tale of Three Pestos

Mint, Cilantro and Lemon Pesto with Peas and Crudite of Veggies

Mom’s Day night we had a “kids welcome” night at the Cogill Compound….of course our four legged child, Yoda, loved it as it turned into a big pizza party with lots of pepperoni, prosciutto, chicken and cheese falling to the ground as we created pizza after pizza in our little kitchen.  And lucky for us the adult to child ratio was 2:1 so we weren’t out numbered by the side walk chalk drawing, Star Wars loving, infectiously adorable kids that joined in the fun that night.

Gary had an opportunity to go to the Mavericks/Laker game (who could say no to that) while I prepped for our party.  Our buddy, the amazing Chef Janice Provost, was bringing her pizza-peel wheeling self over to test her potentially new pizza kitchen idea with her (and hubby Roger’s) fantastic pizza dough.  But, we needed toppings….Thats where I came in.

Follow the jump for more….

The Amazing Chef Janice Provost

I had a few ideas that I knew we wanted to try….barbecue chicken with caramelized onions and goat cheese; classic pepperoni with lots of mozzarella; sun-kissed tomatoes with prosciutto, baby basil and smoked mozzarella.  But I wanted to add a layer of flavor beyond just using tomato sauce on the base of each pie.  Enter…pesto!

Our herbs have been growing almost like weeds, so what better time to use some of them up by creating a few classic and not so classic combos bringing bright, fresh and earthy flavors to the pizza pies, and doubled as great pre-pizza dips with crudite and home-made focaccia bread.

And, all could be whizzed up in the food processor in a matter of minutes.

Of the three it is hard to say which was the best as they all were good and all worked well in various combos.  Classic basil pesto with tomatoes and mozzarella; mint and cilantro pesto with smoked chicken and goat cheese; chive, parsley, arugula and carrot green pesto with caramelized onions and mozzarella.  Yum….I wish we had more.

Basil Pesto

Recipe:

Classic Basil Pesto
Ingredients:
30 large basil leaves
1-2 garlic cloves (to your taste)
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ cup olive oil
1-2 teaspoons water (if you need to thin it out a bit)
salt and pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon pepper, salt after you have made the pesto as the cheese might add all the salt you need)

Preparation:
Add all ingredients except oil and only 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of water to your food processor and begin to chop.  Slowly drizzle in the oil and continue chopping until the pesto has come together and become an emulsion.  Add more water if needed.  Taste for seasoning and add a salt a bit at a time and any additional pepper.  Process again and pour out into a prep bowl and cover until ready to use.  Use as a base for a tomato, basil and mozzarella pizza, a chicken and basil pizza, prosciutto and mozzarella pizza, or mix 2 tablespoons with 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard and  2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar for a pesto salad dressing.  You can add more oil to the dressing if desired but I find this blend works fine.

Chive, Parsley and Carrot Green Pesto

Chive, Parsley, Arugula and Carrot Green Pesto
We had gone to Spicer’s and gotten some fresh out of the ground carrots with the full green tops in tact.  I did a quick internet search that said these were edible, so why not mix them into a pesto.
Ingredients:
3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons fresh chives
1 clove garlic
1/2 fresh lime
2 tablespoons fresh baby arugula (or watercress…something peppery)
2 tablespoons fresh carrot greens
1 tablespoon crushed walnuts
salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon of each…the arugula is peppery so you may not need as much for the flavor impact)
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon water, optional to thin out if necessary

Preparation:
Add all ingredients except oil and only 1/2 teaspoon of water to your food processor and begin to chop.  Slowly drizzle in the oil and continue chopping until the pesto has come together and become an emulsion.  Add more water if needed.  Taste for seasoning and add any additional.  Process again and pour out into a prep bowl and cover until ready to use.  This one was great with just caramelized onions and cheese.  I also took about 3 tablespoons with about 4 oz Greek non-fat yogurt and made a quick dip for veggies.

Mint, Cilantro and Lemon Pesto with Peas

Mint, Cilantro and Walnut Pesto with Lemon
This is one of my great go to pestos that can be made quickly, then doctored up to change the flavors slightly.
Ingredients:
3/4 cup fresh mint
3/4 cup cilantro fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons toasted walnuts
salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon of each to start)
zest of 1 lemon and 1 tablespoon juice
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon water

Preparation:
Add all ingredients except oil and only 1/2 teaspoon of water to your food processor and begin to chop.  Slowly drizzle in the oil and continue chopping until the pesto has come together and become an emulsion.  Add more water if needed.  Taste for seasoning and add any additional.  Process again and pour out into a prep bowl and cover until ready to use.   To vary a bit for a dip add 3 heaping tablespoons of the pesto to 3/4 cup of frozen green peas and 3 ounces of goat cheese in the food processor.  Stir to combine and serve with veggies, crackers or focaccia.

5 thoughts on “We’re Cooking: A Tale of Three Pestos

  1. Pingback: Celebration Herbals Chives

  2. You are so creative. I don’t know where you come up with these ideas, but they all look delicious. Love the good writing.

  3. so fun hanging with you guys! i am dreaming about the mint pesto!!! oooh…that might be really delish in a risotto with some roasted chicken. thanks again for your hospitality!

    xoxo,
    janice and roger

  4. Pingback: We’re Cooking: Farmer’s Market Tomato and Fresh Basil Angel Hair Pasta | Red Wine with Breakfast

  5. Pingback: We’re Cooking: Roasted Tomato Caprese | Red Wine with Breakfast

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