Wasabi pesto combines the creamy, nutty flavors of traditional pesto with the kick of wasabi. This fusion dish brings together the best of Italian and Japanese cuisines, making for a delightful dip, spread, or pasta sauce.
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, tightly packed
- 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (you can also use almonds or walnuts as a substitute)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2-3 teaspoons wasabi paste (adjust to your heat preference)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, more if needed for consistency
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- A squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
- Preparation: Before starting, make sure your basil leaves are washed and dried thoroughly.
- Toasting Pine Nuts: In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the pine nuts, shaking the pan occasionally. Watch them closely as they can burn quickly. Once they’re golden brown, remove them from heat and let them cool.
- Blending Ingredients: In a food processor or blender, combine the basil, pine nuts, garlic cloves, Parmesan cheese, and wasabi paste. Pulse the mixture until everything is coarsely chopped.
- Adding Olive Oil: While the food processor or blender is running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Blend until the mixture becomes smooth and well combined. If the pesto is too thick, you can add a bit more olive oil until you get your desired consistency.
- Seasoning: Season the wasabi pesto with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice to taste. Pulse a few times to mix.
- Serving: Transfer the wasabi pesto to a bowl and serve immediately, or store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. If storing, consider placing a thin layer of olive oil on the surface of the pesto before sealing; this will help to preserve its bright green color.
🥗 What to serve with?
- Steamed Edamame: The mild, buttery taste of edamame beans contrasts with the spicy kick of wasabi, making for a balanced bite. Plus, edamame is commonly served with wasabi in Japanese cuisine, so the pairing feels natural.
- Sesame Seared Tuna: This fish has a clean, meaty texture and taste which is beautifully uplifted by the spicy and nutty notes of wasabi pesto. The sesame crust provides a toasted flavor that complements the nuttiness in the pesto.
- Cold Soba Noodles: Soba noodles have a slightly nutty flavor which pairs wonderfully with the complex taste of wasabi pesto. The coolness of the noodles also helps to balance the spiciness of the wasabi.
- Grilled Shiitake Mushrooms: Mushrooms have an earthy flavor and a meaty texture that can stand up to bold flavors like wasabi pesto. The grilling adds a smoky note that works well with the spicy and aromatic qualities of the pesto.
- Pickled Vegetables (Tsukemono): The acidity and crunchiness from pickled veggies can provide a refreshing contrast to the creaminess and heat of the wasabi pesto. Plus, pickled dishes cleanse the palate between bites.
- Tempura Vegetables: The crispy, fried exterior of tempura vegetables is a delightful contrast to the creamy wasabi pesto. Dipping the tempura into the pesto brings an exciting twist to the traditional tempura dipping sauce.
- Daikon Radish Salad: Daikon has a slightly peppery, crisp profile that can complement the wasabi’s heat. Tossed in a light vinaigrette, the salad would balance the richness of the pesto.