Just like homemade salad dressings, pesto has a million variations. We like to experiment with flavors based on what’s available at the time, and we always keep it fairly simple–nuts, a hard cheese, herbs, citrus and garlic. Pesto. At least, that’s how we do it. There’s no reason to stick with tradition when you can come up with fun twists on the original. There are a lot of good premade pestos on the market, and we’ve definitely made use of them. This time, it was worth the effort to make it. Actually, it’s always worth the effort if you have the ingredients on hand. Give it a go just one time, and you’ll see how easy and delicious it can be.
One of the favorite pestos we’ve made included mint and parsley. It was bright, light and fresh. Really nice for the spring or summer. This pesto is deeper, with earthy undertones from the sage and walnuts rolled together with nutty browned butter. It is an easy fix for these chilly winter nights. And a pesto doesn’t have to drape pasta at the end of the day. You could drop a bit over chicken or fish, toss it in a grilled vegetable salad, mix it into couscous or spread it over crostini. The variations are endless and so are the applications.
Walnut and Sage Pesto Brown Butter Pasta – Serves 4
1/2 pound rigatoni, cooked
1/2 bunch fresh sage leaves
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 ounces fresh parmesan
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1. Put garlic, walnuts and parmesan into a food processor and blend until crumbly. Add sage, lemon juice and a dash of allspice. Blend until smooth. Drizzle in olive oil until smooth, then salt to taste and set aside.
2. Drop butter into a large, deep pan over medium high heat and swirl until melted. Cook until brown, bubbly and butter emits a slightly nutty scent, approximately 3-5 minutes.
3. Add pasta and toss or stir until coated. Scrape pesto into the pan with the pasta and toss to coat. Cook until heated through, approximately 2-4 minutes. Salt to taste.
Click HERE for the printable recipe.