Pesto 3 Ways:Carrot-top, Arugula & Cilantro

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I love me some pesto!  Traditionally basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan cheese and olive oil are ground by hand with a mortar and pestle but substitute almost much any herb or green (spinach and kale work nicely too), swap out your nuts and oil and you’ve got a unique blend of flavors to compliment pretty much any meal.  Oh and feel free to skip the mortar and pestle as using a food processor is much, much faster.  I rarely purchase a jar of it because I typically have most of the ingredients readily available in my pantry and refrigerator.  This is why I’ve decided to share three pesto recipes, two of which I use from time to time because it’s such an easy and versatile condiment to make yourself.  The carrot-top pesto is a new one for me, but I’ve come to really enjoy its earthiness.  There’s nothing traditional about these recipes, though they aren’t ground-breaking; just variations that I’ve used before and wanted to share.  Enjoy!

Carrot-Top Pesto

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After perusing my local farmers’ market, I came home with a bountiful, summery haul that included heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and strawberries.  I also opted to pick up a bunch of baby carrots with a vague idea in my mind of how I wanted to prepare them, not realizing their tops could be useful too.  This pesto surprised me.  It’s quite earthy but works really well on roasted carrots and fingerling potatoes or dolloped into a bowl of soup…or anywhere else you would use pesto.  Basil adds familiarity and lightens the flavor just a touch. So next time you purchase a bunch of carrots, save the tops and make pesto!

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS

  • 3-4 cups carrot tops
  • leaves from 2-3 stalks of basil
  • 2 garlic cloves, roasted
  • ½ cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1 oz Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbs freshly-sqeezed lemon juice
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • salt + pepper to taste

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, combine  the carrot tops, basil leaves, garlic cloves, walnuts, Parmesan, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  While pulsing ingredients together, drizzle in the olive oil until smooth. Adjust salt and pepper to your liking.

Arugula Pesto

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“Arugula…it’s a veg-e-ta-ble.”  It’s one of my favorite Steve Martin quotes and my husband and I always recite that line in the grocery store whenever we come across the leafy green.  I was introduced to arugula during college while in Italy visiting a friend.  Our naïveté was pretty apparent because we kept giggling every time we saw a menu that referred to it as “rocket.” So weird to us.  However, I came to love “rocket” and started incorporating it into many of my dishes and finally decided it would make a good pesto.  The arugula always gives a nice, peppery bite but the hazelnuts with the hazelnut oil add a nutty depth of flavor.  A squeeze of lemon juice works just fine but I decided to throw in a preserved lemon for fun.  Use this on pizza and pasta dishes.  So yum.

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups arugula
  • ½ cup hazelnuts, toasted
  • 1 garlic clove, preferable roasted
  • ¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1 preserved lemon
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • approximately ½ cup hazelnut oil

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, add in the arugula, hazelnuts, garlic, Pecorino Romano, preserved lemon, salt and pepper.  While pulsing ingredients together, drizzle in the hazelnut oil until smooth.  Adjust salt and pepper to your liking.

*Note: I used hazelnut oil because I had it on hand and was excited to test it in a recipe where it would shine, though olive oil would work just as well.

Cilantro-Pistachio “Pesto”

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{From Joy the Baker}

This bright and summery pesto is a bit heartier than most but delightfully tasty as long as you like cilantro.  I understand it is a controversial ingredient as most people either love it or hate it- there’s usually no in between.  Since I have made this three times in one week, plan on sending a jar to my father-in-law and have been eating it by the spoonful, I am definitely on Team Cilantro.  It is usually an ingredient that can overpower other flavors, but paired with the citrus of the lime they balance each other out nicely.  The subtle undertones of cumin and cardamom add an earthy element while the pistachios, my favorite nut ever, provide a bit of a salty crunch.  Perfectly awesome.  I have used this on ears of corn {as Joy does}, mixed it with mayonnaise for sandwiches and dolloped it atop my rice and veggie bowls.  So seasonal, so many uses and so delicious.

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ½ cups cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup shelled roasted & salted pistachios
  • juice of 2 limes
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp cardamom
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • 1/3-½ cup olive oil

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, combine the cilantro leaves, pistachios, lime juice, cumin, cardamom salt and pepper.  While pulsing the ingredients together, drizzle in the olive oil until a paste forms.  If a looser pesto is desired just keep drizzling more olive oil, though keep in mind the salt, pepper and lime may need to be increased as well.

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Pesto 3 Ways:Carrot-top, Arugula & Cilantro

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