With an abundance of basil on my balcony, I immediately thought of making a pesto sauce. I always thought pesto meant basil, pine nuts, olive oil and Parmesan cheese but I was wrong. There are so many kinds of pestos, with so many variations on the herbs, nuts, added vegetables and fruit! I looked through many recipes and was intrigued to try a basil-almond pesto from The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley because I love almonds and it didn’t call for cheese. No pine nuts either, which can be a bit pricey.
With so many variations, what exactly is a pesto? It is a made with mixed herbs and David Lebovitz explains that pesto is derived from the Italian meaning ‘to be pounded’, and to be authentic, must be pounded with a mortar and pestle. Phish, I have a new (for me, it is from the 1970’s!) food processor and it makes a wonderful whipped basil spread. :)
I liked this pesto, as it had a bite from the lemon and the almonds were a bit sweeter than pine nuts. The hardest part is now to decide what to do with it!
Other different kinds of pestos:
Rucola Pesto and Sun-dried Tomato Pesto from Chocolate & Zucchini
Strawberry Balsamic Pesto from Eats Well With Others
Kale Almond Pesto from Elana’s Pantry
Roasted Eggplant Pesto from Fat Free Vegan
Basil-Peanut Pesto from Steamy Kitchen
Asparagus Pesto from Simply Recipes
Roasted Red Pepper and Cilantro Pesto from Cookin’ Canuck
Green Olive Pesto from Gourmet
Pea and Mint Pesto from Closet Cooking
Lemon Basil Almond Pesto
1 1/2 cups whole almonds, peeled and lightly toasted
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about half a lemon)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, grind the almonds to a meal.
2. Add the basil, garlic, lemon juice, and lemon zest and puree (don’t worry if it doesn’t puree completely at this point; it will have a change after you add the olive oil). Slowly add the oil and process until smooth. Blend in salt and adjust seasoning to taste.
3. Serve at once. Cover and leftover pesto with a film of olive oil in a tightly sealed container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
Makes 2 cups