I have a friend who says you could put pesto on dog poop and it would taste good. I'm pretty sure that's an overstatement, but I agree that the classic combination of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan, and olive oil is delicious.
Why limit yourself to these five ingredients though? Other herbs and nuts can be added to these ingredients to make variations of Pesto Genovese. Or, you can lose the traditional combination entirely and use the technique to make a completely different kind of pesto.
This week, I stocked up on herbs, nuts, and oils, got out the food processor, and set out to make pestos of all sorts. Pesto—with its balance of astringent greens and rich nuts and oils, along with some fresh aromatics—works with many different ingredients to complement almost any kind of dish.
If you find yourself with a bumper crop of anything leafy and green this summer, making pesto is a great way to enjoy and preserve your harvest (or farmers' market purchase). Take a look at this slideshow to see how.
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About the author: Kumiko writes the blog Recipe Interrupted. She believes that having a few cooking techniques under your belt can help make home cooking creative and easy, and is excited to share these basics here on her regular column Technique of the Week. A graduate of Brown University, the Institute of Culinary Education, and a mother of two hungry girls, Kumiko is always trying to keep her Brooklyn kitchen smelling of something good.