Sage. Oh how I love its silver-gray leaves, its earthy, herbaceous scent and how plentifully it grows in my garden! This spring my herb box overfloweth with sage: large-leaf, small-leaf, purple and variegated. I have them all. And maybe a bit more of them than I need, which means…it’s time to make Sage Pesto!
I make a lot of pesto because the possibilities of what to do with it are endless: stir into risotto, slather over shish-kebab, smear on bruschetta, tuck inside an omelet, mix into salad dressing, garnish a soup. I also make a lot of pesto because I grow a lot of herbs. Sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano, and basil (in summertime) grace my herb boxes. And once you’ve tasted garden-fresh herbs, it’s impossible to go back to using dried.
Pesto recipes are plentiful and while they all incorporate many of the same ingredients–olive oil, herbs, garlic, cheese, nuts–there are infinite ways you can mix and match to create your own unique pesto recipe. Change up your nuts. I lean toward pine nuts for most of my pesto recipes but walnuts, almonds or even hazelnuts can be used. Add a touch of mint to brighten things up, a few tablespoons of lemon juice or grated lemon zest. Cheese can be traditional Parmesan (Parmigiano-Reggiano) but you can also try Asiago, Pecorino, Romano or Spanish Manchego.
You can also vary the texture of your pesto. Run your ingredients through a blender or food processor and you’ll wind up with creamy pesto, whereas if you chop the ingredients by hand you’ll have a more gritty, rustic pesto. I’ve come to really enjoy pesto made this way.
However you make it, pesto is one of the most versatile condiments around! Here’s my recipe for hand-chopped, rustic sage pesto.
Rustic Sage Pesto Recipe
- 1/3 cup sage
- 1/3 cup flat leaf (Italian) parsley
- 1/3-2/3 cup pine nuts, depending on how nutty you like your pesto
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup Pecorino-Romono cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup virgin olive oil (or to your preferred consistency)
- Optional: sprinkle of coarse Kosher salt to taste
I like to toast my pine nuts. If you choose to do this, brown them in a dry saute pan, but be careful not to burn them. Next, get out a big wooden cutting board and bit by bit chop the sage, parsley, pine nuts, garlic and Parmigiano-Reggiano. I find the best way to go about this is start with a half-cup of combined dry ingredients, adding more until all the dry ingredients have been coarsely chopped. You can chop your ingredients with a knife or, better yet, try a mezzaluna, is a single or double curved blade with a handle on each end. A half-moon shaped pizza cutter also works nicely. After everything is coarsely chopped, drizzle in the olive oil, stirring to combine.
If you’re not up for hand-chopping–though you really should try it–combine the sage, parsley, pine nuts and garlic in the bowl food processor or blender and process to the consistency you prefer. Then, with the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil, adding more olive oil for a creamier consistency. Thoroughly mix in the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Add salt to taste if desired.
Note: You can store your pesto in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze it–a lovely thing to defrost in the middle of winter when some herbs are sparse.
It’s all about the journey,