Zucchini, Almond & Mint Pesto, the fourth and last installment of our four-part series on pesto, sponsored by The Italian Centre Shop. The most creative of the four, hosting subtle but very delicious flavors.
Song of the day: "Feeling Good" by Muse, originally written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse for the Musical "The War of Grease Paint" and performed by recorded by Nina Simone in 1965.
Zucchini, Almond & Mint Pesto, is a most unique combination of freshness and subtlety, from the zucchini sauteed, to the combination of almonds, the mint, Parmigiano, and pecorino. This pesto is great on pasta, or even a risotto, a flavor experience that will linger with you for a while.
Zucchini, who would have thought to make a pesto with it, let alone combine it with mint and almonds to produce this lavish pesto. It is our last of our pesto series and we are going out with a bang. When Nicoletta first told me of this pesto I was not sure that I would like it. After much thought and feeling each ingredient I was ready to dive into the world of unique pesto experience. We have had a great time developing all of these pesto recipes, and I think this one will fit the bill wonderfully.
Look at all these wonderful ingredients, all picked up at The Italian Centre Shop. We feel very fortunate to have this store to shop at, as it has such a melting pot of ingredients, produce, and especially the deli counter. I love Sundays there, people come after Church all dressed up and they are getting the shopping done for their Sunday lunch, which is huge in Italy. Deli meats being cut, shopping carts and baskets full of delicious things that I am sure will be the way to a successful, and scrumptious lunch or as we say in Italian "pranzo" In Italy , here is no such thing as Sunday dinner or supper, the main focus on this day is always lunch.
So we have all the ingredients:
- olive oil (e.v.o.)
- fresh mint
- Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- Pecorino Romano cheese
Now we can get started and put together this beautiful Zucchini, Almond & Mint Pesto!
Zucchini, Almond & Mint Pesto, time to get the flavors going!
The first thing is to saute the zucchini, some lovely olive oil and some seasoning, and with a little bit of searing and caramelization, we have elevated the flavor profile of these zucchini. This will add such a wonderful backdrop to the pesto. You could put them in raw, but the flavor will come down a few notches.
The next step so easy, a food processor and in goes the almonds, zucchini, grated cheeses. The key to a good pesto is making it slowly. Just pulsing a little at a time. This enables the ingredients to mingle a bit but also does not break down the pesto too much, and also allows you to monitor the consistency and texture. I like a bit of coarseness in my pesto, it is a personal preference The last stage is to drizzle in the oil, again using the slow principle. Little by little you see the pesto coming together and soon it is done and ready to use or store. You could go real old school and do this pesto in a mortar and pestle, which will be real old school and sometimes I really want that, it is up to you. The world is your oyster!
This pesto is simply stunning and delicious. The sauteed zucchini coming it with some savory/sweet hints, the mint nice and subtle that just peaks through ever so innocently. The almonds providing that surprise textural experience and crunch that revitalizes those dormant taste buds, and to kick up the flavors the Pecorino/Parmigiano combo giving us just a bit of acidity and spice along with that wake me up lemon juice, to rock our palate. I don't want to forget the extra virgin olive oil. Its grassiness and richness perfect to hold this pesto together.
I can see this pesto finishing a nice piece of steamed fish, or even dressing some beautifully grilled vegetables, or imagine this: a nice toasted rustic crostini slathered with this pesto and some dollops of goat cheese. We used it in a risotto and it reminded me of summertime with that pastel color and the freshness it delivered.
I say be adventurous with your cooking, you may just surprise yourself and create this diverse, flavorfully textured Zucchini, Almond & Mint Pesto!
Note: Remember the golden rule, if storing in the fridge top with olive oil!
Song of the day: "Feeling Good" by Muse, originally written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse for the Musical "The War of Grease Paint" and performed by recorded by Nina Simone in 1965. This one will definately get you singing!Print
- 1 big zucchini (about 300 g)
- a dash of onion powder
- a dash of garlic powder
- 25 g (2 heaping Tbsp) skinless almonds
- 10 g (1 small bunch) fresh mint
- 14 g (2 Tbsp) Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- 7 g (1 Tbsp) Pecorino Romano, grated
- 2 drops freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 40 ml + 1 Tbsp e.v.o. oil
- Place almonds in a mortar and pestle and crush them up a bit.
- Gently wash and dry mint leaves.
- Wash the zucchini and cut into cubes.
- In a saute pan drizzle in 1 Tbsp olive oil, toss zucchini in when the oil starts to be hot.
- Season with salt, pepper, a dash of onion powder and garlic powder and cook for about 10 minutes, adding a tablespoon of water to braise.
- Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- When zucchini are cooled, toss into a food processor, along with the other ingredients, leaving the olive oil out.
- Pulse 4-5 times, then start slowly pouring in the olive oil as you pulse until mixture becomes smooth and well incorporated. You may have to use the spatula to clean off the sides of the processor bringing the mixture back into the middle. This is done with the machine turned off.
- Scoop mixture out of food processor bowl and into 2 small plastic food storage containers or mason jar (see Notes).
If you're not freezing your pesto, you can put it into a small mason jar, but remember to top the pesto with olive oil which will preserve it in the fridge for about 5-6 days. If you're storing the pesto in the freezer, use the small plastic containers and do not top it off with olive oil. The pesto will keep for a couple of months.
[This post is sponsored by The Italian Centre Shop. We’ve been compensated but the content and opinions expressed are our own.]