Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sun Dried Tomato and Basil Pesto [Zack]

For me, the coolest thing about cooking is the ability to break outside of normal conventions.

If you took a poll on home cooks, I’d wager that 99% of people would be able to list a few of the normal ingredients to “pesto”.  You’d hear: basil, pine nuts, cheese, olive oil, and garlic.  A few people would deviate and put their own spin on the traditional recipe by adding walnuts or pecorino or shallots.

But pesto just means “paste” in Italian. Culture and restaurants have led us to believe that it’s a requirement to use the normal ingredients.   You can make pesto out of anything you like: parsley, cilantro, carrots, etc.  One of my favorite cooking shows (River Cottage with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingtsall) even had a stinging nettle pesto!

Don’t be bound by fancy French words or implied meanings.  The nice thing about cooking is that people can’t tell you that you are doing something incorrectly as long as it tastes good.

Here I decided to add some sun-dried tomatoes to the normal pesto routine for a different spin.  This is a simple deviation, but feel free to go nuts! (pun intended)


Turn on your kitchen tap and let the water get hot.  Fill up a glass and place the sun-dried tomatoes in the water while you prep the rest of the ingredients.

Place a dry pan (with no oil in it) over medium heat and toast your pine nuts.  They burn quickly, so keep them moving about once per minute in the pan.  It should take about 5 for them to turn nicely brown and smell like nutty popcorn.  Take them off the heat.

Drain your tomatoes and put them into the food processor with the garlic cloves.  Let it run until it turns into a paste.  Add your pine nuts and process as well.  Then add the basil, olive oil, and cheese.

Serve over pasta, on rounds of toasted bread, on top of grilled chicken, in sandwiches, or anything else you can think of!

10 sun-dried tomatoes
1 large handful basil (as large as you can grab with one hand)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
freshly cracked black pepper
3 cloves garlic

Creativity Options:
  • cilantro pesto with quesa fresca (on fajitas)
  • basil with walnuts and blue cheese
  • spinach pesto
  • kale and walnut
  • chive/leek pesto
Rock it funky:  D'angelo - Soul Mate by Funkadelic

1 comment:

  1. You may not realize/remember this as you were just a tiny guy, but I rocked out the sundried tomato pesto in the late was actually a new (oh. sorry. nouveau.) thing then. All the rage. Couldn't get enough.