Crazy Mixed Up Pesto Sauce

18 05 2010

This recipe is a crazy twist to a classic sauce. Fabulous and versatile, you’ll find that you will want to slather this sauce on everything from fish to pizza to pasta. Keeps well in the freezer too. You can also try many variations of this recipe. Try using toasted pine nuts instead of cashews or varying the proportion of herbs. You can omit the shallots and use garlic instead or omit the cilantro, mint and chili peppers and use a cup of marinated sundried tomatoes instead.

Makes about 2 cups

8 cloves garlic, peeled

2 shallots, peeled

1 serrano chile or jalapeno pepper

1cup fresh basil leaves

¾ cup fresh mint leaves

¾ cup fresh cilantro leaves

½ cup toasted pine nuts or cashews

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ tsp salt

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Note: To roast cashews, place in a small saucepan and cover with oil. Heat the pan over a medium heat and cook the cashews stirring constantly. When light golden in color remove from the pan and allow to cool. Make sure not to let them get too brown.

Using a food processor, insert metal cutting blade and turn on the power. Drop the garlic, shallots and chile pepper down the feed tube. Add the basil, mint, and cilantro and mince finely. Add the nuts. Slowly drizzle the olive oil through the feed tube while the motor is running. Add the salt. Scrape down the sides and process again. Add the parmesan cheese and process briefly.

Note: If you do not have a food processor, you can make this in a heavy-duty blender. Otherwise you will have to try the traditional way of grinding all the herbs and garlic in a mortar and pestle and then adding the olive oil and the remaining ingredients. It works but it is time consuming.

Do Ahead:

This sauce can be made and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. You can also freeze it for a couple months, but do not add the parmesan cheese until after defrosting.

Menu Ideas:

  1. This sauce can be stuffed under chicken breast skins and then baked.
  2. Use it as an alternative to pesto or traditional tomato sauce on pizza.
  3. Sauté scallops or shrimp in olive oil or butter and garlic and then place on pasta tossed with the pesto sauce.
  4. Omit the Parmesan. Brush the sauce all over a leg of lamb for the final 30 minutes of roasting. (see Moroccan Spiced Leg of Lamb for cooking method.)
  5. Toss with vegetables in a stir-fry.
  6. Add more olive oil and drizzle over grilled fish and vegetables or dip bread into it.
  7. Toss with cooked rice or other grains and add some diced tomato or red pepper and toasted sesame seeds to make a pilaf.
  8. Spread on toasted baguette and add some chopped tomato and olives for a simple bruschetta appetizer.
  9. Use as a sandwich spread with grilled vegetables, meat or fish. Try grilled Portobello, mozzarella, roasted red pepper and eggplant on focaccia.
  10. Use it in Grilled Salmon with Crazy Pesto Cream Sauce and turn it into a creamy pesto sauce.

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