Whatever You Have Pesto

Our first of the month posts are usually for blog subscribers only, but with all the upheaval in the world right now, we’re trying to do any little thing we can to help our fellow bakers and cooks out.  This pesto recipe utilizes the blender attachment for the Ankarsrum mixer and gives lots of substitutes for ways to make pesto with what you might have on hand now.

Now, more than ever, people are making do with what they have in their pantry or freezers to make a meal.  In case you missed it, we shared an Anything Goes Fruit Muffins recipe this past weekend with lots of tips and suggestions for swapping out ingredients with what you might have on hand, or can find in the grocery stores right now.

We’re doing the same thing with this pesto.  No need for fancy pine nuts and expensive fresh basil and high end Parmesan.  Yes, all that stuff is great and I love it.  But you can also make a delicious pesto with walnuts and beet greens, and that random hunk of crumbly cheese that needs to be used up.

About two week ago I couldn’t find fresh garlic at all.  The grocery stores were being cleared out of all kinds of things as fast as they could be restocked.  It was crazy, and frustrating.  So grab that jarred garlic if needed.  Or pull out that garlic powder.  Maybe you have some specialty flavored oils you’ve been holding onto but aren’t quite sure what to do with them.  Use them in pesto!

While I recommend olive oil, you could also use grape seed oil, nut oils or avocado oil. I did not like the flavor of vegetable oil in my pesto though.

Fresh spinach, chard, beet greens and arugula all make excellent pestos.  You can even use kale, but I suggest mixing it with one of the less hardy greens.  A little fresh basil helps add that classic taste, but it’s not absolutely necessary.

Fresh basil, spinach and beet greens. Remove any fibrous stems from the greens before using.

Even when I am making regular pesto, I rarely use pine nuts.  They are just so pricey and I always have a lot of other, more affordable, nuts on hand.  You can make a nut free pesto by using pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and/or sunflower seeds.

Walnuts, cashews and pepitas.

And last, but certainly not least, cheese!  Basically, any hard aged cheese will do.  Just make sure you like the flavor.  Stay away from melting cheeses and soft cheeses.  I have used Manchego, Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, Grana Padano, even Asiago for making pesto.  This time I had some aged goat cheese on hand, so that is what went into the blender.

The smaller sized grater drum and slicer/shredder attachment for the Ankarsrum work perfectly for shredding cheese.

For making pesto in a blender, it is important to layer the ingredients in as the recipe calls for.  This helps uniformly blend it all together.

First the garlic and oil get blended together.

Next the greens, then cheese and then nuts get added. Blend together and pesto is done.

Keep in mind that pesto should have a little texture to it.  So don’t blend into a smooth puree.  Unless you like it like that, then blend away!  Fresh pesto can be kept in the refrigerator for about 5 days.  It can also be frozen.  I like to freeze in ice cube trays, then pop out the frozen cubes into a freezer safe container and have on hand for whenever I want some pesto.

Let us know if you have any questions or comments.  Stay safe out there everyone.

WHATEVER YOU HAVE PESTO

Prep Time: 10 minutes

-275 g. (1 1/4 cups) olive oil

     substitutions: flavored olive oil, avocado oil, nut oils, grapeseed oil

-6 cloves fresh garlic, minced

     substitutions: 6 tsp. jarred garlic, 3/4 tsp. garlic powder

-120 g. (3 cups packed) greens: fresh basil, baby spinach, arugula, beet greens, chard, kale

-112 g. (4 oz.) finely shredded hard cheese: Parmesan, Manchego, Pecorino Romano, Asiago, Grana Padano, aged goat cheese

-130 g. (1 cup) shelled nuts/seeds

-salt and pepper to taste

Place the oil and garlic cloves in the blender attachment.  Put lid on and blend on high speed (6 o’clock) until garlic is pureed into oil.

Add the greens, cheese and then nuts.  Put lid on and start on lowest speed (12 o’clock) and then slowly increase to medium high (4 o’clock) and blend until slightly chunky.

Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.  Keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.  Alternately, freeze for up to 6 months.

Yield: 2 cups

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Carmi Adams

Carmi Adams has loved cooking from a very early age; requesting fondue pots and cookbooks for birthdays as a child. She further pursued her passion for food at the Art Institute of Atlanta and obtained a degree in Culinary Arts. Carmi landed a job on the show Good Eats, which aired on the Food Network. For seven years she did everything from food research, recipe development and testing, product testing to feeding a hungry film crew. Now living in the central coast of California, Carmi enjoys the bounty of agriculture, vineyards and farmers markets at her culinary disposal. She has been using the Ankarsrum mixer for over 15 years and feels that it is hands-down the best on the market for home cooks.