making pesto without a recipe

I've been here in Idaho since before Christmas, and we have been enjoying everything from biscuits and sausage gravy to eggs benedict; tenderloin with mushroom sauce and polenta to jalapeño parmesan dip.

I don't know about you, but I need a time out from heavy meals. Not because I don't love them, because I do, but because I also love fitting into the three outfits I brought with me here to Boise (in an effort to avoiding checking a bag, of course). I decided to extend my stay here with my sister and her sweet little family, and my wardrobe is at its ultimate limit. I actually crocheted myself a scarf just to have something else to wear. 

Just like a mix-and-match couple of outfits, having fresh pesto in the fridge is a boon to easy weeknight-dinner making. You can just toss a dollop in with some pasta and parmesan cheese- done. Use it as the base for homemade pizza, using dough from a local pizza shop or Whole Foods (their pre made pizza dough is in the deli section and super tasty). Mix a bit with some mayo and make the best sandwiches ever. You get the idea. 

So, even though I said without a recipe, what I really mean is making pesto within a guideline without a specific recipe.

It's a wonderfully forgiving mixture, that you can play with in so many ways! I actually don't have a food processor, so I made mine in our super powered blender. A food processor would definitely be better, and a regular blender would not work for this.

Basically, you need:

3 cups of greenery + 1/2 cup of toasted, chopped nuts of your choice + 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan + 1/2-1 cup olive oil + 3 cloves garlic, minced

You can use any dark, leafy greens- spinach, kale, chard. I;ve even used radicchio, which was incredibly succulent. The nuts can be anything from almonds to macadamia nuts, but they should be raw nuts that you toast and chop before adding to the mixture. Always use good parmesan cheese (or good asiago, or pecorino, or other low-moisture aged cheese). 

I make one batch at a time, then freeze most of it in an ice cube tray to be used when I need some pesto- it keeps beautifully in the freezer. 

The technique is very simple. Here's how it's done:

Combine all of your ingredients except the olive oil in your food processor.

Pulse until very well combined, with no large chunks.

With the blade running, slowly pour in the olive oil in a steady stream.

You'll see the mixture get lighter in color and smoother. Once everything has changed color and is whirling about happily in there together, stop adding oil.

Pesto will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or frozen for up to six months.

Here's the handy guideline: