Sunday, November 15, 2015

Thai Basil Pesto

What do you do when you want to make pesto, but only your Thai basil is doing well, while your other basils are barely hanging on for dear life?

Well, you could make normal pesto using Thai basil, but that would be just too weird.  Thai basil is its own thing.  It really isn't a substitute for other basils.

So, embrace the Thai-ness of it.  Make Thai basil pesto.  I know that sounds weird, but it's weird in a good way. Whereas normal pesto using Thai basil would be weird in a bad way.

So, what might that look like?  Going ingredient by ingredient....

Garlic: Keep.  Thai food and garlic are friends.

Pine nuts: Nope. No way. Sesame seeds would be good, but using only sesame seeds would be kind of... seedy.   Almonds would be tasty, but they're too hard. Cashews have a good texture. Sesame seeds and cashews. Definitely!

Olive oil: Absolutely not! Toasted sesame oil is lovely, but a bit strong.  Using part untoasted sesame oil would be lovely, but I don't have any. So, maybe walnut oil along with the toasted sesame.

Pecorino romano: Cheese? Yuck! Not for Thai pesto. Just leave it out. Or increase the nuts.

Salt:  Yes. And black pepper.

So, more or less using my favorite pesto recipe, I just madke the substitutions above.  Except, I've been making pesto so long, I don't use a recipe and have no idea how much of each ingredient I use. I just do everything to taste. Here are some rough guidelines:

Ingredients (quantities are very approximate):

1-2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
2-3 Tbsp walnut oil
2 cloves crushed garlic, or 2 garlic ice cubes, plus a dash of dry roasted garlic
1 fist full of cashews
2-3 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 cups loosely packed Thai basil leaves
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Pulse everything except basil, salt, & pepper until minced. 
  2. Pulse in basil leaves, being careful not to over process. 
  3. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  4. Store in refrigerator.

Serving suggestions:
  • Toss some with poached chicken and cooked rice noodles.
  • Plop some on cooked vegies to give them a little excitement.

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