Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Anti-Basil Pesto

If you've read the title of this post and sadly shaken your head, I'm with you. Prior to this little experiment, I was firmly entrenched in the PESTO IS MADE FROM BASIL, ONLY! camp, fervent in my belief that no other green leafy plant could compare. Arugala pesto? Lettuce pesto? Get out! Basil is the only thing that belongs in my food processor, drizzled with oil and dusted with grated cheese.

And then:

Then this happened. Broccoli, spinach, kale even! Oy vey!

What happened was, well, it's July, and there's still last summer's frozen vegetables inhabiting my freezer. Last night, I grabbed a hunk 'o frozen spinach, a hunk 'o frozen kale, nipped some broccoli florets from our garden, and launched a foray into non-basil pesto territory.
And I have to say, it was killer. Here's what I threw into the mix:

Emerald Pesto

8 oz mild, green vegetables (spinach, kale, broccoli)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp fresh dill (2 tbsp dried)
1/2 cup walnuts (or pine nuts)
1/2 tsp salt
2 medium garlic cloves
4 oz ricotta salata

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor, and whirl until done. If desired, more oil (or water, or vegetable stock) can be added to thin the pesto. The consistency I got was spreadable, which is just how I like it.

I'd really love to try this again with some other strong cheese in place of the ricotta salata. Feta would make the pesto almost like spanakopita filling (never a bad thing). Parmesan or romano would make more of a traditional flavor. There's fontina, too, and gruyere to try. Oh, the possibilities.

One thing I really liked about this, in addition to its undeniable deliciousness, is that it was cheap. Homemade pesto from store-bought basil is far from an economical proposition, whereas you can pick up a block of frozen spinach at the store for, what, $1.59? And you'll still have some leftover to throw into an omelette tomorrow.



Zoe said...

Awesome discovery! I will have to try this!

Kristina said...

Thanks Zoe, glad you like the idea.

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