With a warm, rich flavor, Basil Pecan Pesto is delightful on pasta, lovely on sandwiches and perfect on chicken, fish and vegetables. What a great summer sauce!
There are little lessons that I learn in the garden each year. This year, my first and biggest one was to be less impatient. In my rush to plant, we didn’t wait for the compost to arrive and instead added more loam to our boxes. It was fine, in a sense, because the soil does what we need it to. But it lacks the nutrition of the dark, rich compost. I wonder how much bigger our plants would be if I waited for the compost?
Fortunately, I learned that lesson before I pulled plants that I thought wouldn’t thrive. Our broccoli and cabbage seemed to be taking too long to develop into broccoli and cabbage — and I thought something was wrong. But when I checked the information about the seeds on the seed company’s website, I realized the seeds I selected take months to mature — so it wasn’t a failure to thrive, it was that they needed more time.
Another important lesson I’ve learned this year: you need to do what’s right for each plant. This year, we planted nearly everything we’re growing from seed. And that seemed like a good idea until I realized that our tiny pepper plants might never be big enough to thrive. Had I started them indoors and replanted them as seedlings, they probably would have had a better shot at success.
Likewise, our itty bitty basil plants, some of which are now being towered over by tomatoes, may never be big enough to produce herbs for our kitchen. Our dreams of our homegrown herbs frozen in oil and pestos and other sauces may never come to fruition.
Fortunately, local farmers are a bit more adept at growing and have thriving plants we can buy — including some absolutely beautiful basil. That’s gone into a traditional basil pesto that we froze and will probably become frozen herbs soon too.
What I love about pestos is how easy it is to change up the flavors and ingredients. Don’t have pinenuts? Walnuts are a good substitute. Or give the pesto a completely different flavor with other nuts and seeds.
In this recipe for Basil Pecan Pesto, which first appeared in my Bangor Daily News column Maine Course, pecans join the oil, garlic, cheese and basil, giving this a bold, different flavor.
Speaking of the cheese, that’s another way you can shift the flavor of a pesto. Parmesan is traditional but other hard cheeses like Romano, Asiago and aged Gouda can be used as well.
This Basil Pecan Pesto uses Romano cheese, which compliments the basil and pecans well.
And use good olive oil. That’s an essential component of pesto. And since you want it for the subtle flavor it adds to the recipe, you will want to use one that’s rich and bold.
Basil Pecan Pesto has a complex, nuanced, rich flavor. Toss this pesto with pasta. Spread it on salmon before grilling. Toss cauliflower with it. Spread it on sandwiches. There are so many great ways to enjoy it.
- 2 cups packed basil leaves, washed and dried
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ cup pecans
- ¼ cup grated Romano cheese
- ½ cup olive oil
- salt, to taste
Combine the basil, garlic, pecans and Parmesan in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until chopped.
With the food processor running, add the olive oil in a thin stream.
Stir in salt, to taste
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of four cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to a tween and a teen, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.