two pesto variations

My dream is to have an avocado orchard.  Like my cousin has in Santa Barbara, California.  And along with the orchard I’d have an herb garden.  With rows and rows of fragrant basil, sage, coriander and mint.


But my reality is a noisy Parisian flat with a small balcony that overlooks a dusty street. So (during the summer season) I buy large bunches of basil at my local market. And I make my own variation of pesto replacing pine nuts with walnuts and replacing parmesan cheese with pecorino cheese.


5-6 ounces (2 healthy bunches or about 6 cups gently packed) basil leaves
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
1-2 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4-1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Can’t get enough of this pink garlic from Provence.Neuilly August closed signs 2013 037Whiz all the ingredients in a food processor, toss with al dente pasta, and serve with a cooled, light red like this lovely Saumur from the Loire Valley.  It’s that easy.Neuilly August closed signs 2013 035

The second variation of pesto uses pistachios instead of walnuts or pine nuts –

  • Quickly roast (or toast) 100 grams of pistachios in a dry frypan or under the grill.
  • In a blender or food processor mix the pistachios with the leaves of one bouquet of fresh mint, the juice of one lemon, 10 cl olive oil, 50 g of grated parmesan, 3 garlic cloves and 3 tablespoons of water. If too thick, add a bit more water. Salt and pepper.
  • Toss with al dente pasta and top with grated parmesan and lemon zest.  

I’d be inclined to serve this with a fragrant white wine, like a Gewurztraminer that I sampled a few weeks ago; a sweetish, floral varietal grown in the Alsace region of France, near the German border. Alsatian wines are delightful; lately I’ve been giving them more attention.

Upcoming post – in so-called “secular” France, how come we have so many Christian-Catholic public holidays?

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