Picture it: Sicily, 1922….
Okay, maybe not, i’ve never been to Sicily and i certainly wouldn’t have any personal stories from 1922 (bonus points to you if you get the reference here.) but this pesto definitely makes me feel like i’m in a sun-drenched italian villa, maybe in the fall, enjoying the preserved fruits of the summer garden with the last of the seasons fresh herbs….
85g | 3oz sun-dried tomatoes (dry, not in oil)
60g/ml | ¼ cup boiling water*
30g | ¾ cup (loosely packed) fresh sweet basil, chopped
30g | ½ cup (loosely packed) fresh italian parsley, chopped
15g | 1Tbsp + 2 tsp (about 3 medium cloves) garlic, rough chopped
8g | 1 ¼ tsp salt, fine
2g | heaping ¾ tsp black pepper, coarse ground
8g | 3 ½ tsp nooch
36g | ⅓ cup blanched slivered almonds, chopped*
12g | about 1 Tbsp raw cashews, chopped
220g/240ml | 1 cup olive oil
Place sun-dried tomatoes in a heat resistant dish, pour the boiling water over them, cover tightly and allow to hydrate 15 minutes
Lightly toast almonds in a pan over medium heat, stirring and shaking the pan constantly, just until they start to change color and are fragrant, remove from pan and set aside to cool
Place garlic, salt, pepper, nooch, cashews and ¾ cup of the oil into a blender and blend until smooth and creamy
Add sun-dried tomatoes (and any remaining liquid with them) to blender and pulse until tomatoes are chopped, but not smooth (about ¼ inch pieces)
Add almonds, and pulse until finely chopped (also about ¼ pieces)
**If the pesto is still warm, it is best to allow it to cool a little before adding the parsley and basil, especially if you don’t plan to use the pesto right away**
Add basil and parsley and pulse until you reach a coarse pesto*
*if you’re going to be using the pesto in a creamy dish, you can blend smoother If you have problems getting things to blend, you can add a small amount of water to help things along, or add the remaining olive oil earlier on*
*if making raw, simply use hot water and soak for longer and use raw almonds instead of blanched. to make this into a dipping oil (this goes for any pesto really) blend 1-2 Tbsp of pesto, 1/4 tsp fine salt, and 1/4 cup olive oil together. To use this as a base for one of the most delicious salad dressings ever: whisk together 1/3 cup pesto, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup vinegar (your choice, i like red wine with this one), 2 Tbsp lemon juice and 1/3 cup water
Rich, earthy, tangy, and filled with umami, everything in this dish exists only to enhance the beauty of the tomatoes in their condensed and most intense form. Generous amounts of fresh basil and parsley, natural companions to tomatoes, help to lighten and brighten, bringing in herbal notes to complement the tang of the tomatoes and balance out their richness. Garlic and pepper to introduce some zing and top notes, cashews for creaminess and to tone down any overly piquant notes, nutritional yeast, salt and almonds to bring some extra mellow umami to the party.
I’m not gonna lie, this pesto isn’t the easiest to blend, even my vitamix struggles a little with this one. You can always add a tad bit of water, though, this can shorten the storage life and cause some weird textural things to happen. Try to avoid it, just pound the mix down, scrape the sides, persist! If you have a small food processor, that might be a far better option (i just have a big one, and it would just fling everything onto the walls or stuff would just be under the blades)
You don’t need to blend this one super smooth either, it’s best when everything it well mixed and pretty gritty, if you over blend it will turn into a very sticky paste that won’t be much fun to work with later.
Look at that pasta! Of course the pesto works wonders on pasta, especially when paired up with toasted nuts, charred vegges, and greens, all of which go totally perfect with this intense pesto.
Do not, DO NOT limit this to just a pasta topping!!! It is amazing as a sandwich spread, makes an insanely delicious base for a quick salad dressing (especially coupled with a tangy cheese or “cheeze” like gorgonzola), and will make a to-die-for dipping oil when mixed with olive oil and a bit of salt (seriously, this stuff is dangerous!)
Blenders at the ready? GO!