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Pesto: Not Just for Basil Anymore
Features - The Craft of Cooking
Written by Karen Covey   
Pestos are one of the quickest and easiest sauces you can make and a perfect technique to add to your skill set. But if you think basil is the only way to go, then think again. I've created pestos out of a lot of things and some of my favorites include arugula pesto, spinach pesto and cilantro pesto. Everything gets put into a food processor and you have yourself a simple sauce in no time.
 
The trick is to blend up the produce first, along with the garlic, salt and pepper and the cheese, in this case really good Parmigiano-Reggiano. Once you have it all finely mixed then you want to slowly stream in the olive oil to blend it into a nice paste. It's a great thing to make in a larger batch and freeze in small, individual containers for later use.

Pestos can be used as a simple sauce for pasta, a spread for sandwiches, a condiment for grilled chicken or steak or even used as a topping on a pizza. They are really versatile, super easy and best of all, really quick. So the next time you see a big bunch of fresh herbs or produce at your local farmer's market, think about making a pesto. Below are a few of my favorite recipes, or try the asparagus pesto recipe from Michelle Collins. Because if you think pesto has to be just for basil, think again. 

For ideas on how to incorporate pestos into your cooking, visit www.gourmetrecipesforone.com.

Arugula Pesto

Ingredients
 
3 cups fresh baby arugula
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped 
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Method
 
In a food processor, combine arugula, garlic, salt, pepper and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Slowly stream in olive oil and process until smooth. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Makes approximately 1/2 cup.

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Spinach Pesto


Ingredients
 
3 cups fresh spinach
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped 
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Method
 
In a food processor, combine spinach, garlic, salt, pepper and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Slowly stream in olive oil and process until smooth. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Makes approximately 1/2 cup.

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Cilantro Pesto


Ingredients
 
1 cup packed fresh cilantro, washed
1 scallion, white and light green parts 
1/4 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 small clove garlic, roughly chopped
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Method
 
In a food processor, combine cilantro, scallion, jalapeño and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly stream in olive oil and process until smooth. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Makes approximately 1/4 cup.

 

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