THE CULINARIAN: A Quartet of Pestos

2013-07-17T10:15:00Z 2013-07-18T09:16:06Z THE CULINARIAN: A Quartet of PestosJane Dunne nwitimes.com
July 17, 2013 10:15 am  • 

Pasta with pesto is one of my culinary favorites, but during summer grilling season, it's all about using these flavorful fresh herb concoctions as condiments. Here you'll find a mint pesto perfect with grilled lamb chops or kabobs; a citrus pesto to top and brighten grilled swordfish or halibut; a totally delicious and different cilantro pesto with pistachio nuts just made for chicken on the grill, and kale (the superfood) blended with lemon into a lively pesto for salmon.

I hope you'll try one - or all - in the summer weeks ahead. These pestos take little time to put together and may be made a day in advance. (Keep covered and chilled. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

If you are making just before serving, pesto should stand at least 20 minutes, so plan accordingly.

MINT PESTO (6 servings)

1-1/2 cups (packed) fresh mint leaves

1/2 cup (packed) fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts or walnut pieces

4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 medium garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a blender or food processor, blend all ingredients except the oil into a coarse puree. With the machine running, gradually pour in 1/2 cup oil until almost smooth. Transfer pesto to a bowl and season with freshly ground black pepper. Let stand 20 minutes before serving.

CITRUS PESTO (6 servings)

1 bunch fresh basil (3 cups leaves)

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

1 medium clove garlic

1 small lemon, zest grated and juiced

1 orange, zest grated and juiced

1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a blender or food processor blend all ingredients except the oil and Parmesan, to a coarse puree. With the motor running, gradually add the olive oil. Transfer pesto to a bowl, stir in the Parmesan and season with freshly ground black pepper. Let stand 20 minutes. Spoon over the fish if you prefer while serving, or pass the pesto at the table.

PISTACHIO-CILANTRO PESTO (6 servings)

If you love cilantro, you will really love this. If you are not a fan, use flat-leaf parsley instead.

1 cup raw unsalted pistachios, shelled and toasted

2 cups (packed) fresh cilantro leaves

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, divided

1 medium garlic clove, peeled

1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a 375-degree oven, toast pistachios on a baking sheet until golden, about 5 to 7 minutes. Watch them carefully. Transfer to a blender or food processor along with the remaining ingredients, except the olive oil, and process to a coarse paste. With the motor still running, gradually add the oil. Transfer to a bowl and add freshly ground pepper. Taste and add more salt or lemon juice, if necessary. Let stand 20 minutes before serving.

KALE LEMON PESTO (6 servings)

2 cups washed and torn kale leaves, tightly packed, ribs discarded

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

1 large clove garlic

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus zest of 1 lemon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Blot the torn kale leaves dry with paper or kitchen towels. Place the nuts and garlic clove in the bowl of a food processor. Add the kale, oil, Parmesan, lemon juice and zest. Process to a fairly fine consistency but don't overprocess as the pesto should retain a little texture. Transfer to a bowl. Let stand 20 minutes before serving, or spoon over the salmon.

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