Pesto is one of the easiest, yet most impressive sauces to make! Even a complete newbie in the kitchen can make a delightful pesto sauce if using quality ingredients. If you can make a smoothie, you can make pesto!
Great ingredients are the key to great pesto. This is true of most food recipes, but is especially true of uncooked dishes such as salads, smoothies and uncooked sauces like pesto! I recently received samples of Calolea Californian Extra Virgin Olive Oil to feature in my blog. On first taste I knew it would be perfect for pesto and for a variety of salad dressings! I used the Mission Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Calolea.
Recipe: Zesty Pesto Sauce
- 4 fl oz Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 cups fresh Basil Leaves
- 3 Garlic Cloves
- 2 oz Fresh Parmesan Cheese
- 2 oz pine Nuts
- Dash Salt
- Dash Fresh Ground Pepper
- Wash basil and remove stems. Peel the garlic cloves. Measure cheese and cut cheese into small chunks (for easier processing). If you are mixing in a blender or by hand, you may prefer to grate the cheese.
- 1: Olive Oil
- I start with the olive oil as that is more of the volume. Measure and add olive oil to food processor. I used 4 fluid ounces. I admit, if I am not posting a recipe I cook a little more free-form and would just pour the desired amount into my food processor.
- 2. Add Basil leaves to food processor
- Add Basil, little by little and blend. The result should be what could pass as a lovely basil olive oil. If you have a bigger food processor you may be able to blend all at once, with a mini-prep presser I need to mix little by little.
- 3. Measure pine nuts and add to food processor
- If mixing by hand, you may want to smash the pine nuts in a pestle and mortar or in a zip-lock style bag with a rolling pin. Add the pine nuts a little at a time as they blend.
- 4. Add peeled garlic cloves and mix or blend
- If mixing by hand you may want to mince the garlic first.
- 5. Add cubed cheese
- And blend or process. If you plan to freeze the pesto you may want to omit cheese as it doesn't always freeze as well. I rarely make enough to freeze though.
- 6. Mix all together until desired texture is achieved, add salt and/or fresh ground pepper to taste.
- An alternative: if you don't like a strong basil flavor or if you just want to sneak in some extra vegetables you can try using kale or spinach leaves.
Serving Suggestions for Zesty Pesto Sauce:
Pesto is highly versatile and delicious! Serving ideas:
- Tossed over pasta (or vegetable “pasta”) or fresh vegetables
- In a quesedilla
- As a sauce for any lightly flavored protein – chicken, fish, tofu, eggs
- As a sandwich spread in a Mediterranean themed sandwich
- Mix a little pesto into olive oil for a delightful salad dressing
- Use it as a sauce in lasagna (see my previously published Pesto Zucchini No-Pasta Lasagna Featuring Quorn)
About Caloea Olive Oil:
The Calolea Olive Oils that I tasted were light and delicious. I must admit that I like olive oil and I like stronger flavors such as garlic and chilli peppers so to my palette many olive oils do taste light. I also used a sample of Calolea’s garlic infused olive oil and their 12-year-old balsamic vinegar to make a wonderful vinegar and oil dressing. Overall, I am impressed with Calolea and will seek it out the future.
“Michael Keller, the founder and owner of Calolea is one of California’s early harvest pioneers. Through experimentation Michael discovered how special it can be to experience the flavors of the early harvest olive oil. It is clear that Michael values quality over quantity as he strives to present his product to its fullest potential. That being said he does see opportunities for the later harvest olives as well. The later harvest olives yield a greater quantity of oil that is milder in flavor which invites the infusion of fresh ingredients such as Meyer Lemon, Blood Orange, Garlic and Habanero ” (Quote from Publicity Materials)
For more information about Calolea Californian Olive Oils, visit calolea.com. Their website contains recipes, an online shop, store locator and information about their unique tasting room.
Other Product Credits:
The cutting board featured in photographs is from Just Bamboo, it is part of their 3 cutting board set from Amazon (affiliate link to follow) – product listing here.
The mini-food processor is a 4 Cup Mini-Mini-Prep Plus Food Processor from Cuisinart. I have had it for years and it is still going strong. – product listing here.