Basil-Almond Pesto

December 11, 2008 | 46 Comments

Has it happened to you? You sit at the computer and stare at the screen, but have nothing to say? Absolutely nothing. When I think of something – anything – to say it’s mind-numbingly boring. My inner bitch is on vacation. How else can I explain it?

It’s the same with the comments. I go to my favourite blogs, stare at the screen and can’t really frame a rational sentence to post. My mind is in stasis when it comes to blogging. I am working on a project that needs intense concentration and analysis, but my brain has great difficulty switching off from that and migrating to this alternate universe. I have tons of e-mails to respond to from blogger friends and readers. I apologise for being so slack and promise to get to them this weekend.

I need to be more organised. I’ve shortened my Safari reader list to 140 blogs. I plan to handle 20 a day. That’s a good start. Both of us have a lot on our plates right now, so while we’ll try to post twice a week, it’s not a promise.

I was looking at the Events Calendar for inspiration for today’s post and found the Pesto Event for Hay Hay It’s Donna Day hosted this month by Joey @ 80 Breakfasts. The rules state that you are required to either follow the posted Donna Hay pesto recipe or put your “own spin” to it. We have no problems with spins and though this departs a bit from the traditional Italian version, it works for us.

While I love pesto alla genovese (Basil pesto), I have a few fundamental problems making it myself.

** The first is logistical. To get a cup of pesto. you need a LOT of basil leaves of the Genovese variety – 9 to 10 loosely packed cups. I never have enough. In summer I have a couple of pots in my backyard, not a bush.

And she forgot the stars, the moon, the sun,
And she forgot the blue above the trees,
And she forgot the dells,where waters run,
And she forgot the chilly autumn breeze;
She had no knowledge when day was done,
And the new morn she saw not: but in peace
Hung over her sweet Basil evermore …..
‘For cruel ’tis,’ said she,
‘To steal my Basil-pot away from me.’
- John Keats

Hey, if you want to make sure no one steals your basil pot, get a pot lock.

I make pesto with a combination of herbs – cilantro, basil, pineapple sage, mint, whatever I have on hand. I love the combination of flavours.

** I dislike pine nuts. They taste like egg yolk to me. I use other nuts/seeds like cashews, almonds, or pumpkin seeds.

** Most pesto recipes have a lot of extra-virgin olive oil – half to three-quarters of a cup.

I use between 2 to 4 tbsps of good extra virgin olive oil (I especially love the ones from Spain). Sometimes I replace part of it with silken tofu. (Check out this recipe.)

** I rarely have good Parmesan cheese on hand. So I use white miso instead – lots of flavour, very little fat and it lasts forever in the fridge. It’s ideal for vegans.

Depending upon my mood, I adjust the quantity of nuts to the herbs – more nuts for a creamier (fattier) pesto. If you have fresh spinach, add a few leaves to the blend. It yields a greener pesto. (I learnt this and the miso trick from the Tassajara Cookbook.)

Here’s how I made this batch.

For about 1 cup pesto
(we usually make half this quantity)

Grind
1 cup nuts/seeds (I used almonds)

in a food processer until coarse.
Add

About 10 cups of loosely packed fresh herbs
** I used 4 cups Genovese Basil plus a combo of Thai basil, pineapple sage, lemon basil and cilantro.
3 tbsps lime juice or 1/4 cup lemon juice
1 clove chopped garlic
1 tbsp white miso
a few spinach leaves
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and chilli flakes to taste

Blend until smooth and add more oil if you want it creamier.

We love it with gnocchi, or as a dip.

- bee

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46 Comments

  1. Happy Cook says:

    10 cups of herbs i canbelieve you will have never so much basil in the garden unless if you have a huge garden.
    I make the basil pesto with few tbsp of pinenuts and a pot of basil plant we get from the shop.
    Well oi guess we will have to wait till you inner bitch is back. But we also love bitchless bee too :-)

  2. indosungod says:

    Love the color of the Pesto. pesto is not my thing.

    You got to be kidding Bee, I never imagined you’d get a blankout ;)

  3. Anonymous says:

    I also don’t like pine nuts in pesto. ‘ll try adding spinach next time.
    I tried making trapanese pesto few days back from Linda’s italy and it turned out pretty good
    http://www.lidiasitaly.com/first-courses/fc09

  4. Cham says:

    I guess the Honeymoon period is over. Nowadays, I feel so blank and even reduce my posting !
    You have an aromatic garden and tasty pesto!

  5. Elizabeth says:

    I hear you on the blogging apathy. I recently took a 2 month break from reading, posting, thinking about blogging. It was a nice respite, and allowed me to come back and enjoy the experience again.

  6. sharmi says:

    your basil plant has come up so well. are they surviving winter? 9 -10 cups, I got to search for a good farmer’s market to get good basil here.

    no basil in winter.

  7. Aruna says:

    I’ve been making a lot of spinach pesto – 2/3 spinach, 1/3 basil, parsley and any other herbs I have on hand, garlic and almonds/pine nuts. It takes very little oil if you do it a little at a time and tastes great with everything!!

  8. Soma says:

    10 cups! forget the pot, I have to loot the stores for that!

    Liked the combination of different herbs, esp. cilantro too .

  9. Deeba says:

    Get the inner bitch back Bee; maybe this is the year end feeling! This is a refreshing take on pesto. Wonder what Miso is? Love your comments on pine-nuts…though I never had any firm thoughts on them, the word egg yolks has put me off them altogether;! Bias by reading? LOL…take care

    miso is a fermented product made with soy or other grains. it’s from japan.

  10. anudivya says:

    Bee, this is awesome… I got to try it with silken tofu and miso, why didn’t I think of these before. Great substitute for Olive oil. I skimp a lot on mine too, and then wonder why it never turned out as good as the real pesto! I am so making this next time I get basil.

  11. Rashmi says:

    I usually use walnuts instead of pine nuts….i also skim on olive oil….last time i got one from whole foods and that was good…

  12. karun says:

    Where does the inner bitch go when she is on vacation? I am picturing the travel brochure ..

  13. Manggy says:

    Ah, you surely chose a good event to join, despite your being busy :) (I haven’t cooked a savory meal in ages! I dunno if I can still rush to join the events I wanted to…) It looks super-creamy and I would love to have that on some pasta (gnocchi– hmm, yum) right now.
    Don’t worry about the writing/commenting– the blogs will always be there for you :) Good luck with your project!

  14. Nags says:

    wow! that’s a lot of herbs! they are especially expensive in Singapore and however much I wish to grow some on my own, there is no sunlight in part of my house!

  15. Nirmala says:

    Yeah it happens to me too. I sometimes just visit and read the blogs and move away silently. I have loads of photos but no drafts of recipes and vice versa. Concentrate on your work Bee, u can get into this world whenever you feel like. Its a mothers warm hug that this blogging world gives, no matter how irregular we are ! It will hug you anytime u come back. BTW how does Gnocchi taste? I am reading about it everywhere. The pesto is so creamy.

  16. Manasi says:

    Bee.. blank?? Huh?????? The mind boggles!
    10 cups of basil??? still boggling!!!
    but the pesto looks brilliant!
    Take care and make a comeback soon! Hugs!

  17. Bharti says:

    Lovely pesto- I love the use of different herbs in one batch although I can’t imagine tofu or miso in pesto. You are right, it is really hard to get like ten cups of basil. I end up making cilantro pesto more often than not, just because it’s more abundantly available.
    G’luck for your work Bee.

  18. Alka says:

    Pesto…hmm well never really tasted that, so can’t comment on the goodness of its taste, but it surely looks and sound interesting !
    And Bee,i guess it happens with everyone ,every now and then, when such blackouts occurs.I am no exception, when i ponder wht to write i go blank, but when i start ,thoughts just start flowing, and i can see the same happening with you.
    Hearing of blogging breaks from so many bloggers scares me, coz it makes me feel that even i would lack the enthusiasm in due course of time, and i seriously don’t want tht to happen.Lets see wht time holds for me!

  19. Suganya says:

    Tassajara – this book never ceases to amaze me. Every single recipe has left me quite satisfied with outstanding results.

  20. sushma says:

    hey Bee it happens to me as well especially when im busy wth my work…

    that pesto looks so lovely but 4 cups of basil wont it be too much of spices ?

    can i use the same pesto for pasta?

    yes, you can.

  21. Meeta says:

    oh i just love the basil mix in this. the color looks incredible too! i can totally relate to not having much to say – i call it the blogging blues and I too am experiencing it!

  22. lakshmi says:

    You have company. In my case, I have tons to say, but go blank when I open wordpress! I have realized, how little I say in our blog and in our comments. Its like a my brain has had a blogging shutdown or something!

  23. Anonymous says:

    Hey Bee, I make the pesto quite similar to you. Almonds are my favorite too. I use spinach at times and have absolutely loved using arugula(rocket) or even escarole. Tastes delicious. Thanks for the miso tip!!

  24. sra says:

    Hmm … IB on vacation or are you reaching a kinder and mellow 50 despite yourself, Bee? :-) Oh, the horror!

  25. Namratha says:

    Adding spinach is a neat trick! I don’t like pine nuts either, have used Walnuts, will try Almonds the next time.

  26. Minti says:

    That cookbook looks very interesting. If I ever plan to buy it on amazon, will going through your page help? (If you don’t get a small amount of the proceeds, I won’t bother) And the pot lock! How do you find this stuff?:)

    dear minti, it’s a book worth having. i’ve added it to our astore under cookbooks.

  27. Núria says:

    Yes, sometimes I also stare at the white comment’s space and look for inspiration… I think you need to go on holidays or take some days off, or just forget about blogging for a while :D

    Your pesto looks gorgeous, sooooo green and so dense, mmmmm I love it with pine nuts and without cheese…

    Please forgive me if the question is stupid and you have already posted about it, but… is the click event finished? No more Clicks? I see it nowhere.

    there will be a new click beginning january. it will be announced end december.

  28. Arundathi says:

    the miso trick is so great – thanks for the tip!

  29. Deb says:

    I have recently become an arugula pesto fan. It is easier to grow lots since it tolerates the winters here and I like the peppery taste. Although we are finding a little pesto often goes a long way…

    Enjoy a break or even just a slower pace – the blogosphere will be here (and even more appreciative perhaps) when you feel ready with more input!

  30. sunita says:

    Staring blankly at the screen with nothing to say? Happens quite often to me nowadays.

    The pesto looks so refreshing…I hardly have enough basil to make pesto,and add other herbs to it too…your miso addition sounds very interesting :-)

  31. Alexa says:

    I think it is the busyness that stresses the mind and sucks the ability to express ourselves as usual. This time of the year is especially hard that way. The truth is there are many things that will wait for you until you are ready for them… silence is breeding ground for inspiration. :-)

    This pesto is completely inspired. I often make mine with walnuts instead of pine nuts. Your recipe sounds great, Bee, especially with the almonds.

  32. joey says:

    I know exactly how you feel because I came from just that sort of week! Glad you could join this round of HHDD! Thanks you! :)

    Your pesto looks amazing…such gorgeous color! I will try a mix herb pesto soon…this sounds absolutely delicious!

  33. DK says:

    Miso in pesto? Thats a neat idea…Will prepare it soon..I need to use my “use it fast or I am gng to die on you” basil leaves in my patio…..

    And yes do get back soon Bee..we truely do miss you. But then all said n done, take ur time..U know your priorities..we all will always be selfish in pestering you to get back to ur normal self!

  34. Johanna says:

    I like the idea of white miso instead of parmesan in pesto – must try that! I think I never have enough herbs from the garden or the shops – my last pesto was definitely lacking greenery but this recipe is inspiring!

    Sorry to hear you are still suffering your blogging block! Happens to us all and if you don’t have the head space then remember you don’t have to blog – better to relax and do it when you are ready! Good luck with your project – maybe it needs you more than your blog does right now!

  35. shankari says:

    Take a break and come back when your inner bitch is ready :)

  36. purplesque says:

    Wasn’t her lover’s head buried in that basil pot?

    *Goes to hunt for white miso*

  37. Kalai says:

    The color is to die for! I love pesto. :)

  38. arfi says:

    This is a healthy choice. YUM!!!

  39. Shreya says:

    Interesting:-) I have never had this before, but I love the colour, and it matches the colour of a fresh coriander chutney that I made for Idlis recently:-) Hope you get to complete your work and get back to normal blogging soon!

  40. Jude says:

    I need to clean up my RSS Reader myself. It’s been stuck at “1000+” unread posts for a while now. Hope your project goes well!

  41. Bordeaux says:

    Excellent combination of fresh herbs and other ingredients. I love the sound and especially the look of this.

  42. [...] jugalbandi » Basil-Almond Pesto [...]

  43. Chris says:

    This post has turned my pesto world upside down. Somehow I had never thought of using several types of herbs/leaves to make a single pesto! I guess I’m not that adventurous :P But I’ve been using cashews in my pesto for awhile now because I love the slight sweetness that they lend to the sauce.

    Great blog – keep it up :)

  44. [...] tea (dried chamomile flowers, water) 1 p.m.: 2 small red bean burgers with 1/4 cup oil-free vegan basil-almond pesto. 5.00 p.m.: 1.5 cups salad with sprouted millet, carrots, zucchini, pears and steamed fresh [...]

  45. [...] This pesto is so creamy, delicious and easy, that I will be making it on a regular basis. It has neither pine nuts, nor parmesan cheese. I’m not a fan of pine nuts and usually replace them, as well as the cheese, with lots of almonds or cashews. (see Basil-Almond Pesto) [...]

  46. [...] greens here and there, not so glossy or stately, but usable. So, grabbing inspiration and tips from Bee at her blog site, this is what I put together with what I had in the [...]



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