These summer pesto recipes are a fast and easy no-cook sauce that can be made using fresh basil, parsley or arugula.
Every once in a great while I ask myself, “If I could only grow one vegetable, what would it be?” I usually settle on the classic answer of tomatoes. I can’t imagine a summer without ‘Sungold’ cherry tomatoes, ‘Orange Banana’ or ‘Speckled Roman’ paste tomatoes. Then my mind asks — “What about basil?” — and I know that I wouldn’t be happy without fresh basil on my tomatoes or, even better, fresh basil pesto on pasta topped with garden-ripened tomatoes. And fresh parsley. And homegrown garlic!
The ultimate vehicle for the pure heady essence of fresh basil is pesto, an herb paste that is Genoese in origin. Add pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and grated cheese and nothing else. Traditionally it is made with a mortar and pestle. The word pesto originates from “pestare,” meaning to grind or pound.
I have noticed the difference in flavor between ground, minced, food-processed and blender-made pesto. The latter is almost metallic in taste, whereas chopped or ground pesto brings out the purest basil flavor. But I like pesto made in a more practical food processor well enough to use that as my tool of choice for large preparations.
Pesto has been taking on many other flavors as well, some traditional and some evolving out of its popularity. Flavorful herb pestos can be made from cilantro, parsley, arugula, spinach and more.
See my favorite pesto recipes at the top of this article.
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