15 November 2011


I tend not to make pesto.  Don't get me wrong, I love pesto, but pine nuts are expensive (not to mention hard to find) and I don't usually buy fresh basil -- I also tried growing it here and it does not agree with my area, indoors or out.  My husband brought a huge bunch of fresh basil (reduced price!  10p and in super good condition!) back from the store and I figured it was high time I made a batch of pesto.

Traditionally, pesto is made from basil, pine nuts, garlic, and olive oil (pureed in a blender or food processor, or smooshed* with a mortar and pestle)...and Parmesan cheese, but I don't eat cheese, so I always skip that bit.  Anyway, like I said, pine nuts are expensive, so I thought I'd try something else. 

Why does it look so creamy?  I don't know, but it was delicious!
I happen to have a large bag of pepitas (those green pumpkin seeds you find either in the health or Latino section of your grocery store) in my kitchen, so I substituted them for the pine nuts.  I didn't feel like cleaning my food processor,** so I got out my mortar and pestle.  Actually, my mortar broke a few years ago, so I got out a mixing bowl and my pestle.  I chopped the garlic and basil (on my cutting board) and ground the pepitas in my blade coffee grinder first.  Then I threw everything into the mixing bowl, added a glug or two of extra virgin olive oil and some salt & pepper and got grindin' with the pestle.  When everything was all smooshed into a paste, I spread it on some rustic bread (also reduced price from the store) and toasted it in the oven for a few minutes.  I ate some...I ate some more...and then I ate it all.  It was delicious!  :D

There are other variations on pesto.  I've made it with walnuts instead of pine nuts and ramsons (they grow wild here and are absolutely everywhere in the spring!) instead of basil and garlic.  I've also seen it made with cilantro instead of basil. 

Do you make any other variations?  Do tell.  I've often read one should make a large amount, store it in a clean glass jar, and refrigerate for later, but I generally only make a day's worth at a time.  I've tried making larger amounts in the past, but they seem to go mouldy pretty fast in my fridge.  :/

*  Okay, the culinary word is ground, but who cares.  Smooshed sounds so much more fun!
**  Not that it's not clean, it is, I just didn't feel like cleaning it after making pesto.


  1. You can make pesto with any green(s) and nut/seed combination! I have successfully used almonds, walnuts, and cashews (and of course pine nuts) to make pesto. All nuts or seeds could be used raw or toasted! Also as far as greens go, I have used cilantro, basil, organic baby spinach, organic baby arugula, and combinations of all of the above. I always use olive oil and fresh garlic, but even the oils and flavorings can be changed around. In the winter I use spinach or arugula since basil is hard to come by.

    Glad to see you are on a path to more pesto!!

    I hadn't thought of pepitas, and I have a bag in my pantry :-) good idea!

    Vegan Fazool blog

  2. Arugula! I would never have thought of that. Brilliant. I am trying that next. :D