Getting Personal with Pesto

"What is pesto? Pesto is the way a person makes a pesto." Emboldened by this mantra (see: Saveur) and equipped with an abundance of fresh basil on the brink of oxidization, I set out to get creative with the classic condiment. The Liguria region of Italy claims the authentic version -- a vibrant combination of basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, cheese, and olive oil. These six iconic ingredients define the pesto that has become a household name, though there has been debate over specific measurements, textures and steps involved in the process of making it. It is also a sauce that allows considerable flexibility in its ingredients and use. Pesto's extended family spans across regions and generations -- Saveur mentions walnut pesto, parsley pesto with capers and anchovies, garlic scape pesto, almond and sun-dried tomato pesto, cilantro and pepita pesto, pistachio pesto, arugula pesto, and roasted red pepper and ricotta pesto as some interesting examples. With a nod to the original and a nudge from its cousins, I arrived at my own ingredient list using what I had in my kitchen: basil, arugula, mint, hazelnuts, pepitas, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice. The measurements? I can't exactly say. I didn't measure, rather added and tweaked until I arrived at a consistency and flavor that was desirable. Which is what I recommend to any pesto-maker. Because pesto is not a perfect science; it is the way a person makes it.

I will try to remember generally what I threw into my food processor for the sake of repeat performances...


Ingredients (approximations):

1 cup basil
1 cup arugula
A few mint sprigs
1/4 to 1/3 cup hazelnuts
3-4 Tbsp pepitas
2 garlic cloves
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice

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