Who doesn’t love pesto?! Especially homemade pesto. Making your own Italian pesto with pine nuts is delicious and easy. Forget jars of pesto. Did you know they aren’t strictly vegetarian? Is pesto not vegetarian?! Nope! Parmesan cheese is used for pesto. And in Parmesan, animal rennet is used. This pesto recipe is vegetarian and much tastier and healthier too!
To make your own pesto you only need 4 ingredients: pine nuts, (vegetarian) cheese, garlic, and basil. Plus a drizzle of olive oil. Pesto is a perfect dipping sauce and also very tasty for pasta, this vegetarian pasta pesto for example. But pesto is also very tasty on a cracker, on bread, in a salad, and on a pizza!
Where Does Pesto Come From?
We have a lot of good food to thank Italy for, also pesto. Pesto is from northern Italy, in Genoa. In the 19th century, Italians started the growing basil, to which many recipes arose with this plant. So is the pesto recipe. In Italy, pesto is still super popular and each family has its own pesto recipe. Always with the same basic ingredients!
Pesto means mashed. You mash the ingredients into a fine paste. You traditionally use a mortar for this, but more on that later. Many sauces are made in Italy in this way and are called pesto. How we know pesto is originally called pesto alla genovese.
Traditionally, pesto is made with Parmesan cheese. But as we said before, Parmesan cheese is strictly not vegetarian. This is because there is animal rennet in Parmesan cheese. This animal rennet is removed from the stomach of a calf, for which the animal must be killed.
And vegetarian is officially someone who doesn’t eat anything from a killed animal, but with rennet many vegetarians have no problem. An animal is not slaughtered purely for rennet. Rennet, by the way, is in most cheese. Of course, you can decide whether you eat cheese with rennet or not!
What vegetarian cheese do we use to make our pesto? Parrano grater, chips or straw cheese are perfect for making vegetarian pesto.
You know those cute little plants from the supermarket. Super handy if you’re going to make pesto because it’s about to grow! But how do you keep the plant healthy?
Make sure your plant gets water daily (preferably directly at the roots) and enough sunlight. With us, the plant is in a windowsill on the southeast and grows very fast!
How Do You Make Italian Pesto?
Making your own pesto is very easy. All you have to do is mash the pine nuts, (vegetarian) cheese, garlic, and basil with a (hand) blender. And later add olive oil and possibly some salt!
As we said before, you should traditionally stomp the ingredients with a mortar. This ensures that all ingredients retain their taste so that you have the most delicious pesto. So if you want to do it all right, grab a mortar. But if you prefer to do it quickly with a hand blender or blender, the pesto also becomes very tasty.
Making your own guacamole is also very tasty and easy!
It is important to bake the pine nuts in a frying pan first, without oil. Make sure you don’t turn the heat too high, because the pine nuts can suddenly burn quickly. Pine nuts that are burned make your pesto not taste as it should. So watch out! Once they’re a little brown on both sides, they’re done.
If your pesto is bitter, you can add a little salt. You can also try it out if you like a little lemon juice because of the pesto. Want your pesto a little creamier? Then put in some extra cheese. If the pesto is too thick, you can put extra olive oil through it.
Pesto or Tapenade
Pesto and tapenade are often confused with each other, both are also often green and red. But the basis of tapenade is very different from that of pesto. The basis of tapenade is olives and capers. Sometimes fish is added to tapenade. Also, the origin of tapenade is different, tapenade comes not from Italy, but from the south of France.
Instead of pine nuts, you can also vary with other nuts. A common ‘budget option’ is to replace the pine nuts with cashew nuts.
But you can also make pesto with walnuts for example! Or sunflower seeds, pecans, or almonds. A mix is also possible.
Do you want to keep your fresh pesto longer? Then pour a thin layer of olive oil on to the pesto before covering it. Then you can keep the pesto in the fridge for at least two to three days. You can also freeze pesto and can last even 6 months.
Italian Pesto with Pine Nuts
- 40 gram pine nuts ⅓ cup
- 50 gram vegetarian cheese ½ cup
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 tablespoon olive oil
- Heat a frying pan and roast the pine nuts, without oil. Make sure you don't set the heat too high, because the pine nuts can burn quickly. Once they are brown on both sides, they are ready.
- Wash the basil leaves. Peel the garlic and cut into pieces.
- Place the cheese, basil leaves, pine nuts and garlic in a high measuring cup, in the food processor or mortar. Mash until smooth and add the olive oil.
- If the pesto is bitter, you can add a little salt. Do you want your pesto a bit creamier? Then add some extra cheese. If the pesto is too thick, you can add some extra olive oil.
PIN THIS ARTICLE