Last weekend I had the joy of cooking for some friends in North Carolina, and my hostess had massive quantities of herbs that we wanted to use. I decided that a pesto sauce would be a great addition to a seafood meal because 1. it used lots of said herbs, 2. it didn't ruin the meal if someone didn't like pesto since it was on the side, and 3. I LOVE PESTO. There are tons of ways to make pesto, and this is one of my favorites.
As you probably know, traditional pesto is a mix of basil, parsley, garlic, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts. Some people add lemon zest or juice, some people change the herbs around, but that's the main recipe. For this variation, I used two types of citrus and two types of herbs. So, without further ado, I give you...
Mint Basil Citrus Pesto
Yum. It's amazing.
Before we get going, gather up the following items:
- Fresh mint
- Fresh basil
- 1 clove garlic
- Olive oil (you'll need at least 1/2 cup, maybe more)
- 1 orange
- 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons shelled pistachios
- Salt and Pepper
To start, I put about 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves and 1/2 cup loosely packed mint leaves in a food processor. This is just a starting point - we add more later. If you don't have a food processor, a blender works just fine. Or you could have someone you're angry at chop and mix everything for about 3 hours until the pesto is the consistency you'd like it to be.
At this point in the story, I would also like to inform you that while I was editing the pictures for this post Jay offered to help out in the food photography department sometime.
"Since this is a comedy blog, if you ever want me to pose nude in the background I will. You won't be able to see much, but you'll know I'm there."
Anyways, back to the pesto: Once you've nearly filled your food processor with herbs (this was a small machine, you might not fill yours completely), drizzle in just a little olive oil and pulse the herbs to get them chopped and make room for more ingredients.
Your kitchen will smell really great at this point - that is my gift to you. Once you've gotten your herbs pulsed a little bit, zest one full lemon and one full orange. If you'd like to remain disease free you might consider washing your produce before you use it, but that's really your call.
I'm not your mother.
Once you zest your citrus, put the lemon zest, orange zest, 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and garlic clove in the food processor with the herbs.
Now, pulse everything together and evaluate the situation:
If the mixture is too thick, add more olive oil.
If things taste weird, add more of ANYTHING based on your personal preference. I find that salt is often the first thing I need to add.
Once everything tastes just like you think it should, pulse it for a long time (probably add some more olive oil at this point, you don't want it to get too thick), until everything is smooth and creamy and amazing.
Now, make an executive decision to not eat this entire concoction with a spoon. Let it rest for awhile while you get the rest of dinner ready - it tastes better that way! For this meal, I served the pesto with grilled veggies and salmon with orzo.
There are a million things that you can do with this sauce:
- Toss it with pasta and some chicken stock
- Add a teeny bit of mayo and sour cream and serve with veggies as a dip
- Brush it on chicken right at the end of grilling
- Stir into cereal in the morning (not really, that sounds gross)
- Spread it onto pizza dough before cooking instead of marinara sauce