It is spring in Germany, time for me to make some Pesto. Why? Because herbs and wild herbs sprout from the ground everywhere, weeds are plenty – and with this easy pesto recipe pesto is so easy to make and simply tastes so much better than anything you can buy.
You probably know the pesto from the super market or deli store. In Germany it mainly comes in two different tastes: Green Pesto, which is basil, pine nuts, Italian cheese, garlic and olive oil and Red Pesto which mainly consists of sundried tomatoes and olive oil.
But pesto can be so much more – and as with everything else homemade just has so much more taste. With this one easy pesto recipe you can make a many more varieties of pesto than you could ever find in a store. My favorite pesto is not even made from commonly used herbs, it is actually made with weeds from the garden.
Industrial pesto often has by far too much oil in it, too. For the simple reason that oil makes it easier to keep. Who wants to buy something that is bad after a few days? (But do you want to eat all that extra oil when there is no need?) For the same reason industrial pesto has to be heated at some point in the making. Which also causes it to lose some taste.
If you follow my easy pesto recipe, homemade pesto can also be kept for a few months if you take some precautions. Mine never lasts that long. I always have some friends lined up eagerly awaiting my next round of freshly made pesto.
In spring (now) I make a special pesto with Bishop’s Goutweed. This weed was brought to Germany by the Romans around 2000 years ago – did you know that large parts of Germany where part of the roman empire? Romans used goutweed similar to spinach. The taste is near but not quite like parsley. As the Romans did, you can use it in salads, in soups or as vegetables. Today goutweed is mainly known as a weed that loves to overgrow every garden – it can be a real pest. There is virtually no cure against goutweed in the garden once it found a place it likes. It is very hard to get rid of it again. The smallest part of a root can make it grow new leaves.
So instead of getting annoyed by goutweed overgrowing some areas of our garden I decided to make the best of it and researched some recipes. This easy pesto recipe is the best use for goutweed I found so far. I admit that I am not overly fond of goutweed in salads – reminds me of hay and I am no horse. There are better weeds or wild herbs for making salad. But I yet have to find a better herb for pesto.
The easy pesto recipe:
- 100g herbs
- 100g nuts (without shells)
- 100g Italian cheese (something like pecorino or gran padano)
- 2-6 cloves of garlic (depends on your taste and how strong the herb)
- 100ml of olive oil
- some salt
The italian cheese needs to be one of the dry and strong tasting sorts like gran padano, parmesan, or pecorino.
Wash and tumble dry the herbs. Cut the cheese into smaller pieces. Put everything into a kitchen machine to mince and mix – if you want to store the pesto for some time, you should be rather generous with the olive oil – oil is a natural preservative. Add salt after your own taste.
Fill everything in glasses – cover with a little olive oil so that no air can reach the pesto. This helps to keep it fresh and preserves the color. Without the oil it may turn a little brownish. If you do not use all of the pesto at one time, cover it with fresh oil again and it will keep fresh for a while.
For different sorts of pesto you can vary the nuts and herbs. The amount of garlic depends a little on the herb you use. A strong tasting herb like goutweed can well do with 6 cloves of garlic. For a milder herb, or if you are not so fond of garlic, you may go for a little less garlic.
The amount of salt you need also depends on the cheese – some sorts are rather salty others do not bring so much salt. Try it.
For the pesto with goutweed I use walnuts. I have also made some great pesto with sunflower seeds as nuts. Basil pesto is usually made with pine nuts.
The goutweed pesto tastes awesome on bread, with vegetables or as pesto is often used with pasta. Or you serve it as a sauce for asparagus (Berlin is going crazy for asparagus in spring – more on that story in another article). You can also use the pesto with meat, fish or French bred.
Other herbs you can use with this easy pesto recipe are wild garlic or lemon balm.
Put in some nice glasses with screw caps homemade pesto makes an awesome small present. My friends often ask me for more of homemade things I gave them. Its a gift they cannot buy for themselves and it is a gift that truly comes from me…