I found out years ago (through my work at WFM) that the pestos I liked best weren’t the super-authentic all-basil garlic pine nut Parmigiano Reggiano ones. Mostly, I found that using all those ingredients didn’t result in a balanced pesto, but one that had a harsh edge and an overwhelming flavor. It’s expensive to make, too. I fell in love with a Texas-born WFM spinach pesto – I still have the recipe for it, but it’s in foodservice quantities. Hard to translate a pesto recipe that makes a gallon down to a usable amount.
But this one is in that one’s spirit. This is an improvised one I made this evening – it is quite good, has a pleasant light herbaceous taste, and doesn’t knock you out of your chair. No, the garlic is not missing, I just didn’t use any. You certainly could add some minced garlic – I just think it’s nice to have it without it once in a while.
A food processor is indispensable for this.
1 1/4 c. curly parsley, finely chopped (do this part with a knife – works better)
1/3 c. walnut halves (trust me)
some basil – tonight I had about 10 leaves left, some big, some small
about 2 oz. hard cheese – I used Dry Jack, but Reggiano or Romano would work fine
olive oil to process (Put some in. If it’s not moving in the processor, add more)
salt and to taste
Using the knife blade of the processor, process the parsley, nuts, and basil with some olive oil. Change to the shredding disk and shred in the cheese. Switch back to the knife blade and combine the mixture, adding more olive oil if necessary. Turn out into a bowl and season with salt to taste. If it’s too pastelike and looks like it won’t toss over pasta well, add more oil. If you’re spreading it on bread, you might want it pastelike.