To make pesto, of course, you combine basil, nuts (classically, pine nuts, but walnuts are fine too), garlic, parmesan cheese and olive oil -– classically, with a mortar and pestle, but the Cuisinart is my utensil of choice. To serve on pasta or vegetables, thin the pesto down with some of the hot cooking water.
What I call semi-pesto omits all the ingredients that might go rancid, leaving only the basil and the olive oil. I process this down to a puree, pack it into half-cup tupperwares, make a nice smooth surface and pour a little more olive oil on top to seal it. Most of it goes into the freezer, where it will keep for years, and one pack at a time stays in the fridge to be used a spoonful at a time.
Here are some of the ways to use semi-pesto to add flavor:
- Stir into soup or any tomato-based sauce.
- Add to omelet or quiche.
- Add to mayonnaise or butter, to use on bread, vegetables, fish, etc.
- Spread on bread instead of butter.
- Combine with cream cheese or ricotta for a dip or spread.
- Add to salad dressing.