Pesto can be the base of all kinds of tasty meals. A few spoonfuls thinned with pasta cooking water makes a simple spaghetti. Rub some on chicken breasts and bake for a great chicken dish. Add a few spoonfuls to spaghetti sauce for an instant upgrade in flavor. Spread some on Italian bread and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese for an impromptu pizza. Or just put some in a bowl and lay some bread straws or crackers beside it for a quick hors d'oeuvre. Here's the on-the-fly recipe I used for my pesto, with a few ways to change it in parentheses:
- At least 5 generous handfuls basil (pull the leaves after measuring), or 2-3 small packages from the store (can substitute some or all parsley or cilantro for a very different flavor)
- 4 or more cloves of garlic (hard to use too much)
- 1/4-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I have also used crumbled feta in a pinch. If you use cilantro, try queso fresco, though the texture may change a lot). If you freeze the pesto, omit the cheese until you thaw it.
- A handful (1/3 cup or so) walnuts, pignoli, or almonds (I've never tried pecans, but I can imagine that working, too)
- olive oil (walnut or almond might work, but I'd use a lot more garlic to boost flavor) and salt (hard to give an exact amount)