When I was little, I refused to eat pesto. I wasn’t a very picky eater for the most part, and the majority of my few dislikes (broccoli, asparagus) came from me and my brother’s general quest to eat fewer vegetables. But pesto pasta – that was one dish that I just couldn’t get behind.
This sauce, traditionally made with fresh basil, lots of garlic, toasted nuts, and olive oil, happens to be one of my mom’s (many) specialties. While I gobbled up her pasta carbonara and delicious homemade soups, whenever pesto was on the menu I requested my pasta plain with just a bit of butter – none of that green stuff!
Looking back now, I think that this stubbornness was really a stand for my independence. I wanted something that was my own – even if that thing was a peculiar dislike for a certain type of spaghetti. I bet that those of you with older siblings will understand!
As I got older, I was slowly swayed to try pesto – inspired mostly by the rave reviews of pretty much everyone else who’s ever eaten this dish. Once I matured a little, and learned to voice my independence through other, more meaningful outlets, I was willing to admit the appeal of this bright green sauce. It’s intense, garlicky, vibrant, herby, and peppery. A perfect warm-weather condiment.
This season, I’m imagining this sauce served with all sorts of summer dishes – try it spooned over grilled meat, tossed with spaghetti and cherry tomatoes, or spread on toasts with fresh mozzarella for the perfect light appetizer.
Although pesto is usually made with basil, it’s brilliant in that pretty much any type of herb serves as a great substitute. Swap in cilantro for a chimichurri-type topping, or even throw in a large handful of arugula.
I mixed my pesto up with a combination on mint and parsley – mostly because that’s what I had on hand. The bright and savory sauce was perfect combined with rich, creamy goat cheese. So give a batch of this pesto sauce a shot this summer (with whichever herbs come your way) and let me know what you think!
Mint Parsley Pesto
Makes 1 cup
- 1 cup packed mint leaves
- 1 cup packed parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts, toasted
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
- juice of 2 lemons
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Combine mint and parsley leaves, nuts, and garlic in a blender or food processor. Process until finely minced.
- Add lemon juice and pulse a few times.
- Add half of olive oil and blend. Add remaining olive oil and a little salt and pepper and blend until smooth.
- Store this pesto in a jar in the fridge. My mom taught me this great trick: pour a layer of olive oil over the pesto. Make sure the surface is always covered in oil, and the pesto will stay fresh longer.