Perfect Pesto Proportions

I am just dashing this post off to make sure I remember what turned out to be perfect proportions as to amounts of greens to olive oil, nuts, garlic, and Parmesan  cheese in a pesto. However, it also serves as a reminder that pesto is not just for basil. Many other greens or combination of greens also work well, especially if you are looking for a lighter but just as tasty pesto as when made with basil only.

pesto and greens

Never too much green

I made pesto today because I had way more pea tendrils and arugula than I was going to use in the next several days.  I had made a quick batch of pesto last week using a 1/3 basil to  2/3 the amount of pea tendrils, and loved it, so I figured I would continue along that line.

When making that quick batch last week, I had to use tahini for the nut part because I discovered I had no walnuts on hand.  You know what? Tahini worked just fine.  But for this batch, I went back to walnuts.

Here’s the recipe for 6 ounces of greens.  FYI, I doubled and used 12 ounces and the whole double batch fit in the food processor. I forgot how much the processing reduces the volume!

Anyway, here is the recipe:

  • 6 oz fresh greens (one or more of basil, arugula pea tendrils, etc. – the garden is the limit!)
  • 2 oz walnuts
  • 1.5 oz fresh peeled garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 oz grated Parmesan cheese, freshly grated if possible

Just for the record, for the 12 oz of greens, I used 3 oz basil, 4 oz pea tendrils, and 5 oz arugula in this particular batch.

When processing, I starting with 3 oz of the greens and 1/8 of the olive oil and process for a bit, then add another 3 oz (the rest if you are doing the 6 oz amount) and 2 ounces of walnuts,  1.5 oz garlic and the another 1/8 cup olive oil and process until well mixed, then, if doing a double batch, repeat the process. Once all is very well processed, add the Parmesan cheese and process as desired or stir the cheese in after removing from the processor.

NOTE: Especially if using finely powered store bought Parmasan cheese, you can stir it in after removing the pesto from the processor.  I hand-grated mine so I figured it could use a bit more breaking down.

The good news about using other greens with or instead of the basil is that the other greens don’t oxidize in the same way as basil, so the pesto stays bright green.

Although there is nothing so wonderfully rich yet healthily decadent as basil pesto, I often find that I prefer a pesto with other greens, and I am now totally hooked on using pea tendrils!  Just a lovely fresh flavor.

A note about the pea tendrils: I remove the very skinny strings are the ends of the tendrils.  They can end up introducing an unpleasant “stringy” component to recipes.  The stalks at the bottom, unless VERY tough, are fine to use in this any recipe or salad.

When making pesto, try experimenting with other greens and see what works for you.  It’s an easy way to get your greens, that’s for sure.