Pesto is a sauce that originated in the Ligurian region of northern Italy. Pesto genovese, from Genoa, traditionally consists of crushed garlic, basil, and pine nuts blended with olive oil and Parmigiano Reggiano. The name derives from the Italian verb pestare which means to pound or to crush, referring to the original way of preparing it - with a mortar and pestle. The ingredients in a traditional pesto are ground with a circular motion of the pestle in the mortar. Now I use a blender. It's much easier! And...I use whatever greens and nuts I happen to have on-hand. So, for this version, I was inspired by my farmers' market find of purslane.
Have you ever had purslane? I first encountered purslane in a CSA box years ago. It almost looks like a succulent. Amazingly, its leaves have more omega-3 fatty acids than in some of the fish oils. I think I read somewhere that it's technically a succulent herb. And it definitely has a lot of flavor. Think sour and salty all at the same time. It's the perfect base for pesto. So, you'll see this on R's fundraising dinner menu tossed into pasta and mixed with capers. It'll be a simple, summery dish.
Ingredients makes 1 pint jar
- 2 C fresh purslane leaves, rinsed, dried, and destemmed
- 1 C fresh basil, destemmed
- 4 to 5 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 C whole raw hazelnuts
- 3/4 C shredded parmesan
- juice from 1 organic lemon (I used Meyer lemon because my parents have a tree in their backyard)
- olive oil as needed
Place all of the ingredients into the blender or the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times, drizzle in a few glugs of olive oil, and resume pulsing. Pulse. Oil. Pulse. Oil.
If you want a smoother, sauce-like pesto, add more olive oil and blend longer; if you want a chunkier pesto, use less oil and blend for less time. So simple. So fresh. So fragrant.