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Texas Pesto

Traditional pesto gets a Texas twist in this flavorful version featuring toasted pecans and Cotija cheese, perfect for slathering on bruschetta, tossing with pasta, jazzing up veggies, and so much more!

Texas Pesto ~ traditional pesto gets a Texas twist in this flavorful recipe featuring toasted pecans and Cotija cheese, perfect for slathering on bruschetta, tossing with pasta, jazzing up veggies, and so much more! | FiveHeartHome.com

Yay for basil! Because my herb garden has it coming out the wazoo, and there’s really no way to use it all up before it goes bad without making some big batches of pesto. So here we go!

Texas Pesto ~ traditional pesto gets a Texas twist in this flavorful recipe featuring toasted pecans and Cotija cheese, perfect for slathering on bruschetta, tossing with pasta, jazzing up veggies, and so much more! | FiveHeartHome.com

That being said, I realize that there are already approximately eleventy-billion pesto recipes on the ol’ interwebs, and most of those are for some form of traditional pesto. But did you know that you can also make fresh, flavorful pesto with other types of nuts and cheeses (than pine nuts and Parmesan)? Because let’s face it…who automatically keeps pine nuts on hand? Plus, they’re rather (ridiculously) pricey.

Texas Pesto ~ traditional pesto gets a Texas twist in this flavorful recipe featuring toasted pecans and Cotija cheese, perfect for slathering on bruschetta, tossing with pasta, jazzing up veggies, and so much more! | FiveHeartHome.com

But you know what nut I always have on hand? Pecans. Because pecans are the state nut of Texas, Y’ALL! And on top of that, they’re quite delicious and versatile, which means they’re typically my nut of choice to fold into muffin batter or sprinkle into salads. And after concocting this delectable new Texas Pesto recipe, I’ll also be calling on them any time I have a plethora of basil to use up.

When I decided to try pecans in my pesto, I knew I had to think of something equally untraditional to replace the usual Parmesan or romano. And so I remembered a half block of Cotija cheese in the fridge that we’d enjoyed crumbled over some tacos a few weeks back. JACKPOT. What a perfect way to add a bit of Tex-Mex inspiration to my pesto!

Texas Pesto ~ traditional pesto gets a Texas twist in this flavorful recipe featuring toasted pecans and Cotija cheese, perfect for slathering on bruschetta, tossing with pasta, jazzing up veggies, and so much more! | FiveHeartHome.com

I think it’s really important to toast your pecans before grinding them into your pesto for maximum pecan flavor. And as previously mentioned, my Cotija cheese came in a block so I crumbled it myself to measure out 1/2 cup (crumbled Cotija somewhat resembles feta, except it’s firmer and less creamy). Or if you don’t want to mess with measuring your crumbles, you can simply measure out 2 ounces of Cotija on a food scale instead…either way works.

I was honestly so pleased with how this Texas Pesto turned out. The fresh basil…the toasty pecans…the creamy Cotija…just YUM. In addition to those base ingredients, this recipe also includes the other traditional basil fixins’ of fresh garlic (a little bit goes a long way), lemon juice (for a touch of brightness), salt and pepper, and of course, extra-virgin olive oil (good quality, please) to smooth everything out. Feel free to add a bit more olive oil depending on your preferred pesto consistency.

Texas Pesto ~ traditional pesto gets a Texas twist in this flavorful recipe featuring toasted pecans and Cotija cheese, perfect for slathering on bruschetta, tossing with pasta, jazzing up veggies, and so much more! | FiveHeartHome.com

As for how we enjoyed this pesto? This may sound crazy, but we ate some of it like a dip with raw veggies and tortilla chips and it was amazing! It’s only natural that Texas Pesto lends itself to tortilla chip dipping, I suppose. Then to use up the leftover pesto at lunchtime the next day, I thinned it out with some extra olive oil and tossed it with warm cheese tortellini. Mighty tasty.

So who’s ready to put that overabundance of garden fresh basil to good use? And as a bonus, pesto freezes beautifully…so lucky for us, this Texas Basil is a taste of summer that we can enjoy all year long!

Texas Pesto ~ traditional pesto gets a Texas twist in this flavorful recipe featuring toasted pecans and Cotija cheese, perfect for slathering on bruschetta, tossing with pasta, jazzing up veggies, and so much more! | FiveHeartHome.com

Texas Pesto

Yield: Approximately 1 1/4 cups

Texas Pesto

Traditional pesto gets a Texas twist in this flavorful version featuring toasted pecans and Cotija cheese, perfect for slathering on bruschetta, tossing with pasta, jazzing up veggies, and so much more!

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled Cotija cheese
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Place the garlic in a large food processor or blender. Pulse until minced. Add the pecans and pulse until finely chopped. Add the basil, Cotija, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Process/blend until ingredients form a smooth paste, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl/blender as necessary.
  2. With the food processor/blender on, stream in the olive oil, adding extra if you desire a thinner consistency. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, if desired. Serve immediately or store packed down in an airtight container.

Notes

To toast pecans, preheat oven to 350°F. Chop pecans to measure 1/2 cup. Spread chopped pecans in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until fragrant and light golden brown, watching carefully to prevent burning. Allow to cool completely.

Just like guacamole, pesto can quickly turn from a bright and lovely shade of green to an unappetizing brown color once exposed to the air. There are a few things you can try to inhibit this process: *make sure your basil leaves are completely dry; *make sure all of the stems are removed from your basil leaves; *add additional extra-virgin olive oil (which acts to preserve the basil, so the more you add, the more likely it will stay nice and green); *add additional lemon juice (though this will affect the flavor if you add too much); *don't leave out the salt; *pack the pesto in an airtight container for storage (with no air bubbles), then cover the surface of the pesto with a sheet of plastic wrap (touching the entire surface) before putting the lid on the container...or instead of using plastic wrap, pour a thin layer of extra-virgin olive oil over the surface of the pesto before putting on the lid.

If none of the above ideas keep the pesto as green as you wish, you can even try blanching the basil leaves (put the basil leaves in boiling water for 10 seconds, then plunge them into an ice bath, then completely dry them) before making your pesto to help retain the bright green color.

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More green favorites…

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Pesto Pasta Salad ~ studded with bright green asparagus, sweet peas, decadent bacon, and fresh pearls of mozzarella, this pasta salad is a flavorful side dish or light dinner, perfect for spring and summer celebrations! | FiveHeartHome.com

Avocado Fettuccine with Roasted Tomatoes
Avocado Fettuccine with Roasted Tomatoes ~ a savory summer dish featuring al dente pasta coated in a creamy avocado sauce and topped with sweet and garlicky oven-roasted tomatoes and ribbons of fresh basil | FiveHeartHome.com

Creamy Jalapeño Dip {Chuy’s copycat}
Creamy Jalapeño Dip ~ a base of homemade ranch dressing is flavored with fresh jalapeños, cilantro, and tomatillo salsa in this addictive copycat recipe of the popular appetizer at Chuy's! | FiveHeartHome.com

Avocado Egg Salad
Avocado Egg Salad ~ avocado toast meets classic egg salad, lightened up with yogurt and studded with creamy chunks of avocado throughout...a perfect topping for sandwiches, crackers, or salads and a fantastic way to use up leftover hard-boiled eggs! | FiveHeartHome.com

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Comments

  1. Ginger Wroot says:

    This pesto looks so yum–my basil is still in its early stages, but I know I’ll have lots in about a month…can’t wait to this recipe with some of it! This is my first time to your blog–it’s wonderful!
    –G

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Thanks so much, Ginger! I hope you have (or have had) a chance to try this recipe when you find yourself with lots of basil! 🙂

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