Pesto. You’ve heard of it, and hopefully if you’re reading this, you’re like me and you love it. The purpose of this week was to make pesto myself to see if it’s really better than the jarred pre-made pesto that makes our lives so easy.
What I think is great about pesto is how flexible it is. It’s essentially a sauce made of fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, and olive oil. However what I’ve been finding is that you can use the basic principles of pesto and make it in a variety of ways.
This week I’ll be making 3 pesto recipes using different ingredients so that we all have a little variety in our lives. The recipes that I’ve made so far have reinforced that jarred pesto has nothing on fresh pesto. It’s so easy to make yourself. Plus you have total control over what goes in it, and the flavor is much more bright and fresh-tasting than what you buy pre-made…I’m officially a believer!
I can’t wait to share all of the yummy pesto dishes I’ve found, so let’s get started…
Recipe #1: Crispy Shrimp Pasta with Arugula Pesto Cream Sauce
One again I found myself heading over to the Tasty Kitchen site to see what pesto recipes they had to inspire me. This recipe caught my eye and I was excited to give it a try.
One element of this dish that stood out to me was the arugula pesto recipe. It didn’t call for any nuts. It was just some garlic, fresh argula, cheese, and olive oil and then a little heavy cream stirred in.
Traditionally pine nuts are used in pesto. When I had mentioned to one of my friends that I was contemplating a week of homemade pesto, she informed me that she can’t really eat pine nuts because they don’t agree with her, so she figured she couldn’t eat most pestos. I immediately thought of her when I saw this recipe and was intrigued by a pesto with no nuts.
This recipe was extremely quick to put together and was very flavorful with the naturally spicy fresh argula. The shrimp and pasta paired with this pesto are seriously amazing! And I must tell you that this dish tasted even better heated up the next day.
This is a definite must try, so what are you waiting for?! You can find the recipe and step by step instructions here.
Recipe #2: Whole Wheat Pesto Rolls
When I saw found this recipe (over at Tasty Kitchen again), I was so intrigued by this use of pesto that I had to give it a shot. The recipe is essentially like making cinnamon rolls only rolling the dough with pesto instead of a cinnamon and sugar mixture.
I found this recipe to be pretty easy to follow. It was a bit labor intensive as you are making the dough, letting it rise a couple of times, and rolling it out and making the rolls. But it is a pretty great feeling when you’re all done and see what you accomplish.
These rolls were really delicious. Admittedly, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but they were a perfect companion to the first recipe I made (Shrimp Pasta with Arugula Pesto Cream Sauce). One thing to note is that the recipe did not include a pesto recipe. It just called for 1 cup of pesto. I found a spinach Parmesan pesto recipe while searching through the Tasty Kitchen site, and since this week is about making my own pesto I felt compelled to make my own pesto in this case and not rely on a store-bought pesto.
The pesto was a piece of cake to make, and the dough came together quite well. I think the most critical part is working with the yeast, so be sure to make sure the liquid you are adding your yeast to is at the right temperature to activate the yeast. My yeast needs the liquid to be between 100-115 degrees Fahrenheit, so a digital thermometer comes in extremely handy here.
Go ahead and challenge yourself and make these rolls. They are really delicious and you’ll be able to eat on them for days. For the roll and pesto recipes click here and follow the step by step instructions.
Recipe #3: Spaghetti with Citrus Pesto
For my final recipe, I couldn’t help but go to my go-to chef…Giada De Laurentiis for a great pesto recipe. I’ve seen Giada cook with pesto lots of times, so I knew she’d have something great up her sleeve.
I chose this recipe because it was a Citrus Pesto. The basil, garlic, pine nuts, and olive oil were traditional, but it was this kick of citrus with lemon and orange that had me curious. I saved it for last, because I was looking forward to this recipe the most.
Let me tell you, this recipe was fabulous! I’m a big fan of Giada’s Lemon Spaghetti recipe that she has in one of her cookbooks, and this Spaghetti with Citrus Pesto reminded me so much of that dish…I was a happy girl.
Giada’s recipe is actually for a Swordfish and Spaghetti with Citrus Pesto. Since I had a Mahi Mahi filet on hand, I cooked that instead and it really was quite a special dish. Such a great meal for Summer with fresh, bright flavors.
Click here for the recipe and step by step instructions…you will thank me!