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Pesto With A Twist

Following a pesto recipe as the author intended is never going to happen for me. I read them and I respect the chef or author, but I always feel I can tweak it just a bit. Pesto is pretty standard, but I took it in a slightly different direction. In my ever-so-humble opinion, I thought it was awesome. See what you think.

What you need:

  • ½ cup pine nuts and or a mix with good quality walnuts
  • Ground red pepper (cayenne) sprinkle of it
  • 8 or so pitted Kalamata olives (you can add more if you’d like)
  • ¾ heaping cup of grated cheese. I mixed Locatelli and Parmesan
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 6 cups basil leaves (about 3 bunches)
  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil and 2 tablespoons for the nuts
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt if needed to taste

What to do:

In a medium sized skillet, cast iron is good, heat about 2-3 tablespoons of good quality olive oil. Add the walnuts, pine nuts, and keep them moving over medium heat for about until 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the cayenne pepper and be light handed, it goes a long way. Add the olives and continue to toss for a few minutes. They will begin to brown and the smell is out of sight!

Transfer to a food processor and let cool.

Add the cheese mixture and garlic and pulse until finely ground.

Add the basil. With the motor running and the lid on, add oil in a slow pour until the pesto takes form and is smooth.

Taste it first and if needed, season with salt.

Author’s Note: 

When using the pesto on pizza, you may have to add a little more oil to make it more easily spreadable.

When using the pesto on pasta, reserve a cup of the pasta water before draining and use it to thin out the pesto when tossing with the pasta.

You will taste that subtle cayenne and it is outstanding!

I will post the Peaches and Pancetta Pesto Pizza recipe shortly.

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