This recipe for pesto uses roasted hazelnuts, a nice change. Local hazelnuts are always available at Farmer’s Markets in the Lower Mainland. But you could use toasted slivered almonds, or Mediterranean pine nuts (they are pricey) or pistachio nuts. I can’t recommend using Asian pine nuts due to their weird, unpleasant aftertaste. The addition of the lemon juice lends a nice acidity that also holds the beautiful green colour of the pesto. Don’t you agree that pesto is all about summer? I definitely think so! I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy pesto on Troffie pasta in Liguria where pesto originated. Yum, yum!
¼ cup toasted hazelnuts, slivered almonds (see below) (pine nuts or pistachios don’t need to be roasted
2 cups fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
3 garlic cloves, chopped
Juice of one half a lemon, approximately 1 Tbsp.
¼ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
½ cup EVOO
In food processor, process the nuts, basil, garlic, lemon juice and Parmigiano Reggiano until chopped coarsely; season with salt and pepper. With the machine running, slowly pour in the EVO and process until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. If you want to keep the pesto for a day or so pour a thin layer of EVOO over the top, cover and place in the fridge.
The pesto is great on potato gnocchi or pasta. I like to use Troffie pasta when I find it. It is a traditional short pasta shape often used in Liguria. If you can find Ligurian basil or you grow your own basil, even better.
Spread shelled hazelnuts in a shallow baking pan and roast at 275 F for 20 – 30 minutes, until the skins crack and the meat turns light gold. To remove the skins, pour hot nuts into the centre of a kitchen towel, pull the towel around the nuts and twist tightly. Let steam for about 5 minutes. Vigorously rub the warm nuts in the towel until most of the skins are removed. Cool before using.
Place the almonds in an oven-proof pan large enough so the almonds are in one layer; place in a preheated 350F oven for 8 – 10 minutes, stirring often until lightly golden. Cool before using.