100+ Ways to Make Pesto

Moringa PestoPesto, that lovely green, fragrant sauce that goes on everything!

At least if you are me it goes on everything!

This is a recipe for Traditional Pesto:

1 large bunch of basil, leaves only, washed and dried
3 medium cloves of garlic
one small handful of raw pine nuts
roughly 3/4 cup Parmesan, loosely packed and FRESHLY GRATED
A few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

Start chopping the garlic along with about 1/3 of the basil leaves. Once this is loosely chopped add more basil, chop some more, add the rest of the basil, chop some more. I scrape and chop, gather and chop. At this point the basil and garlic should be a very fine mince. Add about half the pine nuts, chop. Add the rest of the pine nuts, chop. Add half of the Parmesan, chop. Add the rest of the Parmesan, and chop. In the end you want a chop so fine that you can press all the ingredients into a basil “cake” – see the photo up above. Transfer the pesto “cake” to a small bowl (not much bigger than the cake). Cover with a bit of olive oil, it doesn’t take much, just a few tablespoons.

You can set this aside or place it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. Just before serving give the pesto a quick stir to incorporate some of the oil into the basil.    From 101 Cookbooks: How to make Pesto like an Italian Grandmother

But if you’ve read a few of my posts, or signed up and downloaded my Reboot-on-the-go Ebook, You may have figured out by now that I’m not always traditional and I’m not always one to follow a recipe ‘exactly’.

This weekend I topped off my Moringa Trees.  What are Moringa you ask?

I’ll do a whole post on them, because they are incredibly nutritious, and so easy to grow – seriously, they will grow just about anywhere, indoors or out — and you can eat almost the whole thing!   But for now, let me just point you to a good link. (but wait till you are done here to go check it out please!) I thought I knew a lot about Moringa, but this documentary is AWESOME!

Discovery Channel Documentary on Moringa

2 lbs moringa

And I had about 2 lbs of Moringa leaves to process. One of my favorite ways to use it is to make pesto. I also use it in salads or in anything that you can use green leafy’s in. Whatever is left gets dried for teas or to add to things in powder form.

But I digress.. I’ll write about Moringa in depth another time.

This is about PESTO!!!!

So Pesto is made traditionally with Basil, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese.  But here is how I made mine, the one pictured at the beginning of this article.

I started with Walnuts and Cashews – probably between 1 1/2 to 2 cups mixed. I ground these down with a good quality olive oil and about 5 garlic cloves

Then I started adding handful after handful of moringa until the mixture thickened, and then thinned it with oil. I added the zest of a lemon and then the juice of that same lemon, some Himalayan salt, and a grind of pepper, then I added a bit more moringa until it turned into a very thick paste. (you just keep adding moringa and oil until it gets where you want it. Easy on the oil, just add a little at a time at this point.)

I use it as a dip, as a spread, I eat it with a spoon! If putting it over gluten free pasta, I would thin it down with a little extra olive oil. –  I add no cheese as I am dairy as well as gluten free, and I honestly don’t miss it.

So this is one type of pesto……….. how does that make 100+?


Look at the table below!


Pesto can be made with ANY combination of nuts, greens, the three ‘must haves’ a bit of acid and optional add ins.

So by combining one or more from the Nut column, with one or more from the Greens Column, Add the three must haves, throw in a little acid, and then if you desire, experiment with some extra add ins, you would surely be able to make well over 100 variations on pesto!

It is quick, it is easy and they are all healthy!

You are getting healthy Nuts which contain phyto-nutrients and healthy fat (you can sprout them first to make them even better for you) All the greens are excellent sources of nutrition.  The olive oil is a healthy fat, Lemon and lime juice are great for you and your add ins can be extremely healthy also. — as long as you go light on the cheese!!  But you know, I never miss it.

My second batch of Pesto that same day was made with Almonds, just a few walnuts, Basil, Cilantro, Moringa (since I had a TON of it still), Lemon, garlic, salt, pepper, and hemp.  I added a bit too much oil in the process, so I set it in a strainer after it was done, and collected the now wonderfully flavored Olive Oil which we will use for a salad dressing base.   Don’t ever throw things out!  Even mistakes can make wonderful meals.

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