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Mint is one of my favorite spring flavors. It has such a distinct flavor that even a tiny bit of it can easily be tasted in a dish. Mint doesn’t hide well. That’s why I was really intrigued when I saw a mint pesto. It doesn’t use mint as an accent. The dish is pretty much all mint.
Honestly, I wanted to try this because I thought it’d be interesting, but I was 100% ready to report that the mint was very over-powering. That’s what I assumed would happen. Shows how much I know. Mint pesto worked just perfectly.
What’s funny about this pesto is that if you just taste a single sprig of mint, the flavor is intense, but when you grind down a lot of them, they lose some of that intensity and mixed with the other ingredients it just becomes a really delicious, light pesto.
1) Wash the mint and parsley well. Toast the pine nuts for a few minutes in a dry pan.
2) Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until they resemble a coarse paste.
3) Taste the pesto and adjust the flavors. It might need a bit more oil or salt and pepper.
4) Toss pesto with hot pasta and serve with extra Parmesan cheese.
This pesto is just like any other. It’s not rocket science. The only note is to make sure your mint leaves are well-washed. They have a tendency to accumulate tiny dirt bits on the leaves. When you buy your mint by the bunch, it’ll come with stems obviously. When you make the pesto try to get mostly leaves but you don’t have to be crazy about it. A few stems won’t mess up the situation.
Now you can use a lot of different tools to make pesto. The traditional way to do it is to use a mortar and pestle or even just a large knife which you keep working over the basil (mint in this case) until it’s a coarse paste.
For this version, I just whipped out my new food processor. Have I mentioned that getting married rocks?!
Of all the gadgets I’ve received as wedding gifts, I think I’ve used this one the most so far. It’s so simple to use. Besides pestos, I’ve started making hummus every week which is really awesome and I’ve used it for a few different dips also. Basically, I’m in love.
For this pesto, it’s as easy as throwing all the stuff in the processor…
And pulsing it a few times until it’s a coarse paste. You don’t want to over-process it.
This really goes for any dish, but I think tasting is essential for pestos. Based on your ingredients, you’ll need to adjust some things. Feel free to add a bit more olive oil if the pesto is too dry or more salt and pepper if needed. Try to identify what flavors the ingredients are contributing to the pesto and then adjust for those flavors if you need to.
Once you get it just right, you can mix it right in to your pasta. Make sure your pasta is really hot and freshly cooked. That’ll help the pesto flavors meld into the pasta.
Mix it all up and you’re good to go! I used a whole wheat penne pasta for this dish, but you could use your favorite obviously.
If I were to re-make this dish (and I just might!), I think I’d add some fresh spring peas to the dish. Peas and mint work really well together and it would add one more great flavor to this pasta dish.
As is though, I just grated some extra Parm on the pasta (because why not) and it was a great dinner. Turns out this dish is also great the next day. The pesto, as pesto has a tendency to do, got even better as the flavors blended a bit.
It was kind of surprising to me how good this was, but if you are used to a basil pesto, this isn’t that much of a step away but it’s a great alternative.