Spicy Pesto

20141219-spicy-pesto
(Serves 2 to 3)
1/2 cup lightly packed basil
1/4 cup mint leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/2 serrano chile, stems and seeds removed
1 dash red pepper flakes
1/2 cup raw sliced almonds, unsalted
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, add more if needed
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan or pecorino, half to mix into pesto and half for serving

Place the basil, mint, garlic, chiles, red pepper flakes, almonds, and oil into a food processor and pulse 4 to 5 times. You want a thick paste, not a thin sauce. If you are not using this immediately, pour some more olive oil over the pesto to seal out the air and cover with a tight lid. This can be stored for up to 2 weeks. If you have a blender but not a food processor you just want to be very careful not to over-mix and you’ll likely need to shake the entire thing in between pulses.

This is an alteration of one of my favorite recipes from Mario Batali’s latest cookbook. The original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds but I’m really not a big fan of fennel. Also, I decreased the amount of serrano chile and removed the seeds the second time a made it. My first pass at this was just too spicy which is really saying something because I am a big fan of spicy. I just felt that the spice overshadowed the rest of the ingredients. I also added just a little more garlic.

I really love this pesto. It’s fresh, nutty, and has a great kick.