This roasted chestnut and rocket pesto provides an interesting pungent twist and is a cheaper alternative to the traditional pesto Genovese.
Pesto is such a versatile sauce which can be used in so many recipes. Most people will know the traditional version, ‘pesto alla genovese’ with pine nuts, basil, garlic, olive oil and parmesan cheese. However, pesto can also be made with a variety of green herbs and different types of nuts. Furthermore, homemade pesto is so easy and fast to prepare and tastes so much better than the pesto you buy ready made.
Ingredients for roasted chestnut and rocket pesto sauce
- Roasted chestnuts: Pesto is traditionally made with pine nuts. In other recipes you may find variations with walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts or pecans. Since I really love eating roasted chestnuts (in Autumn) I came up with the idea to use them in a pesto. And it turned out really delicious. I would advice roasting the chestnuts before using them in the pesto, since it brings out the rich sweet taste of the nut.
- Parmesan cheese: I have used parmesan cheese in this recipe. However, other cheeses like Grana Padano or Pecorino can be used as well.
- Rocket leaves (or Arugula leaves): Rocket leaves have a beautiful pungent and peppery taste which provides a great twist to the more known basil pesto. If the flavour is too strong to your liking, a mix of an equal quantity of basil and rocket leaves can be used.
How to make a pesto
I like pesto to still have a bit of a bite and a more coarse texture. In order not to make it too liquid I use a food chopper to blend. If you like a smoother consistency, feel free to use a blender or food processor and give it a good mix. To get a less smooth consistency with a food processor, just give it some pulses instead of blending, to control the texture.
If you don’t have a food processor or chopper available, no worries, pesto can also be made by hand. Use a very sharp chopping knife or mezzaluna and chop the herbs, chestnuts, garlic and cheese very fine. Mix with olive oil and seasoning and your pesto is ready with of course a more coarse structure. Making the pesto with a pestle and mortar is also possible, but then you need to use coarse sea salt in order to crush the ingredients to a nice blend.
Recommended uses for pesto
Pesto can be used either as a pasta sauce, a bread spread, a salsa dip with crackers or nachos, salad dressing or in a chicken wrap, the variations of uses are numerous.
Roasted chestnut and rocket pesto sauce
- 100 g (3.5 ounces) Rocket leaves
- ½ cup chestnuts roasted and peeled
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ⅓ cup parmezan cheese
- 3 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
- 1 teaspoon seasalt
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Use a pairing knife to make a small cut in the round end of the chestnut.
- In a dry frying pan, add the chestnuts on medium heat and roasted for 10 minutes until soft.
- Peel the chestnuts when cooled down.
- Add the peeled chestnuts, parmezan cheese, garlic, rucola leaves, salt, pepper and half the olive oil in a chopper and mix until you get a coarse texture.
- Add extra lemon juice and olive oil if the pesto is still too dry. Season with salt and pepper.
- Use a food processor for a smooth consistency and texture.
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