by Molly Shuster
A quality pesto requires only a handful of ingredients—vegetables and herbs, garlic and nuts, olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Those with an affinity for the simplicity of the classic might do as the Genovese do and only use the smallest, most tender basil leaves to ensure a mild sweetness and wonderful fragrance. For economical cooks, a basic sauce is the best way to use whatever fresh ingredients happen to be leftover in the kitchen: herbs, garden greens, or the last vestiges of your summer CSA. We’ve included our seasonal favorites here, but the possibilities are endless.
When serving, the nuances of pesto are best brought out by a bit of heat. (Ergo the classic pasta-pesto alliance.) But that’s a limited expression of its versatility—pesto is delicious tossed in warm grain salads; served over grilled meat, fish and vegetables; stirred into soft scrambled eggs; or spread liberally on a hot slab of bread.