Artichoke Basil Pesto

Photos courtesy of Wikipedia

First of all I want to clarify the misconception that pestos must contain cheese and nuts — pine nuts, walnuts, etc… This is simply not true, I recently learned. You can make a nut-free, dairy-free pesto. I have and it was fabulous. So fabulous, in fact, that everyone in the family except for my oldest son had 2 helpings. He had three!

Before I go on to share my recipe with all you, I want to share what I have learned. Pesto is an Italian term derived from the literal translation, to pound or to crush. The orginal variations were made using a mortar and pestle. (Had they had my Cuisinart mini chopper back then I am sure they would have much prefered that method!) Pesto originated in Genoa. Pesto alla Genovese is made with basil, salt, garlic, and olive oil, pine nuts and a hard cheese like parmesan.

France also has a slightly different version of this sauce called Pistou that originated in Provence. In this version cheese is often (not always) added but the pine nuts are not.

So I guess my version is more of a Pistou than a Pesto… but you can call it whatever you like!

1 cup of basil leaves, trimmed from stems
2 cans artichoke hearts
Juice of 1 lemon
3 garlic cloves (feel free to use more, much more!)
sea salt
olive oil, 1/2 cup for sauce — more for drizzling
pasta, 1 lb, your choice — I used linguine and it was perfect

While making your pesto boil a large pot of water to cook your pasta and when water is boiling cook pasta for time indicated on the package.

The best appliance for this is a small food processor, a drink blender will work well too.

In the bowl of food processor add your basil, artichoke hearts (1 can, drained) 1/2 cup of olive oil, juice of 1 lemon a little salt and pepper and pulse until well minced.

In a saute pan heat up some olive oil, finely chop the other can (drained) of artichoke hearts and saute them until lightly golden brown. When the color is achieved turn the heat off.

Once pasta is cooked, drain it and return it to the pot. Stir in artichoke pieces and then add the pesto. If needed drizzle extra olive oil over the pasta and add some freshly ground pepper.

This dish can be served hot or warm, at room temperature.


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