Pesto is a delicious basil sauce originating from Italy. Pesto traditionally consists of basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, parmigiano reggiano and pecorino sardo. Before I stopped using plastic in my kitchen, I used parmigiano reggiano and pecorino romano (I couldn’t find pecorino sardo) in my pesto. These cheeses both came in plastic-wrapped bricks, but I didn’t care. All I knew was that I loved pesto. But then I stopped buying plastic, and I realized that I was going to have to stop buying these cheeses to make pesto. Basil wasn’t in season, so I didn’t think about it. Several months later, I went to the farmer’s market and basil was there. I was really excited so I bought some. Then I did something bad. I went to the store and bought a big brick of plastic-wrapped parmigiano reggiano and a big brick of pecorino romano. I made the pesto, and it was delicious. But I told myself I wouldn’t buy more plastic-wrapped cheese. Eventually the cheese ran out and I realized that I had to find a way to make pesto without using plastic-packaged ingredients. I usually buy whole wheels of cheese to avoid plastic wrap. But I couldn’t buy a whole wheel of either of these cheeses. Pecorino romano comes in an enormous wheel, but a wheel of parmigiano reggiano is even bigger. Its so big, in fact, that it costs over $1000 (I didn’t accidentally put an extra zero there). One day when I was in my kitchen I saw the wheel of cheddar-like cheese that I bought for macaroni and cheese and quiches. I knew it sounded crazy, but I decided that I would try and make pesto with this cheese. So I did. And it worked! I was really happy. I know this probably horrifies pesto lovers, cheese enthusiasts and Italians but it tastes great to me. Here’s are the ingredients you’ll need:
- 2 cups basil leaves, rinsed and patted dry (I use cloth dishtowels for this instead of plastic-wrapped paper towels)
- 1 1/4 cups pine nuts or walnuts (Pine nuts are definitely the best-tasting option. But unfortunately, bulk pine nuts at the store I shop at are $30 a pound. You can get them in a plastic bag for half the price, but I don’t want the plastic. So I just use walnuts, and they work out fine. I buy them in bulk.)
- 1 cup grated cheese (I used Bellwether Farms Carmody. I buy it in whole wheels to avoid plastic.)
- 1 large clove garlic, peeled
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
Add basil, walnuts, cheese, garlic and salt to a food processor. Yes, my food processor is plastic. I still have some plastic cookware and equipment that I got years ago before I started this blog. I’m slowly phasing out the plastic stuff that’s still in my kitchen. This is one piece of equipment that I’m extremely attached to though.
Process until smooth. With machine running, slowly pour in olive oil. Continue to process until you have something that looks like this:
I made some pesto pasta and then stored the rest of the pesto in an old peanut butter jar in my fridge.
Enjoy! This is especially delicious on homemade gnocchi (coming soon).