A while ago, I read an article in Food Network Magazine that really opened my eyes to pesto. In my head, only basil, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, and parmesan cheese could make up the ingredients for pesto. That’s the recipe my mom always used, and it just didn’t occur to me to go outside the basil box.
The article included a “build your own pesto” chart where you could picks your greens (basically anything leafy) and your nuts or seeds, and build a pesto out of it.
That led me to develop my Cilantro Hazelnut Pesto, and I’ve been experimenting with different combinations of greens and nuts ever since.
Oh, and I learned that you don’t always have to add cheese. Although this seemed like a crime to me at first, I realized that the nuts and olive oil add enough richness and creaminess that extra cheese really isn’t always necessary.
I decided to use the traditional pine nut, or pignolia nut, because swiss chard is weird enough sounding in a pesto, I was afraid if I substituted too many of the ingredients it would start to resemble something totally separate from pesto. Also, pine nuts are delicious, anyway.
I’ve been on a green smoothie kick lately, as you saw with my Green Chocolate Cinnamon Smoothie Bowl, and I’m pretty much exclusively using spinach for the greens.
The other day, I decided to get adventurous and try swiss chard instead.
It wasn’t horrible…
There was just a lot more of that “green” taste and a lot less tasty banana/chocolate flavor.
Because it tasted worse than normal, I felt like I had totally earned my greens that day, like I had eaten twice as my phytonutrients for breakfast than anyone else on earth.
As smug as I felt after my swiss chard smoothie, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to keep that up every day, and slunk back into my spinach habits.
I had to find a way to use the rest of the chard, and pesto was the obvious choice, because pesto is delicious…on…everything.
Taylor told me just now as I’m drafting this post that I should change the name of this blog to “Pesto Blog” which is funny, because this is only the 3rd recipe I’ve done with pesto! I think he’s just a little sick of it, because he loves marinara sauce, which tends to take a back seat for him when there’s pesto around.
BONUS! Making it takes like 2 seconds.
Throw everything but the olive oil in the blender!
Blend. Try not to leave a huge piece of un-chopped chard in there like I did. Whoopsie!
Slowly add the olive oil while mixing.
Have like 20 meals worth of Swiss Chard Pesto to put on errrything erryday!
I put mine on baked eggs (Coming Monday!) Hooray!
- 3 cups swiss chard leaves, stems removed, and torn into small pieces
- 1 cup pine nuts
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
- ½ cup + 2 tbl olive oil
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- Add all ingredients, except olive oil, to a high powered blender or food processor.
- Process on low speed first and then slowly increase speed until the largest pieces are about the size of peas.
- Remove the plastic stopper from the top of lid and mix on lowest setting, slowly drizzling olive oil until it is all combined. Taste for texture salt and pepper. Adjust spices to your taste, and continue to mix if it's too chunky for you.
- Pesto will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
If you have an overabundance of kale, instead of chard, check out this Polenta with Kale Pesto and Root Vegetables for a great recipe with kale pesto.