I created the following pesto recipe out of necessity: I had a bumper crop of Thai basil in my garden and didn't want any of it to go to waste. The pesto contains no butter or cheese, is sharp and tangy, and has a subtle Asian flavor. Toss with pasta or a favorite vegetable. It's also a great spread on a turkey sandwich.
- Add the nuts to the processor workbowl and pulse the machine on and off until the nuts are fairly fine. Alternatively, if you do not own a processor, use a mortar and pestle to grind the nuts and basil into a paste and then add the liquid ingredients.
- Add the jalapeño and garlic and pulse 5 times. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
- Add the basil and pulse the processor another 10 times, until a coarse paste is formed.
- Add the rice wine vinegar and pulse on and off a few times to combine.
- Turn the machine on and slowly drizzle the olive oil into the pesto until the mixture looks creamy and fairly smooth.
- Scrape into a bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- The "heat" in a jalapeño derives mostly from the seeds and the white interior membrane. The more seeds and membrane you leave, the hotter your dish will be.
- Pesto means "to pound." Traditionally, the basil leaves and nuts were pounded into a paste. Using a processor is much easier.
- Be careful not to over-process green herbs--you'll bring out the chlorophyll in the leaf and your mixture will taste more like grass than basil.