3 Italian Inspired Pesto Recipes Perfect for Your Next Summer Gathering

 
maria provenzano

Summer is in full swing and this Italian girl is showing you how to whip up not one, but three, pesto recipes perfect for your next summer gathering. I love hosting gatherings centered around a seasonal menu, and to me, pesto screams summer nights dining al fresco with some of my favorite people. Is there really anything better than dining while watching the sunset? I don’t think so.

Multi-course outdoor family dinners instantly take me back to my childhood of swimming at the lake and dining outside at my Grandpa Provenzano’s house. Growing up in an Italian family, I learned two fundamental lessons very early; how-to dine “al fresco” and how to create the perfect pesto. Today with some help from Vitamix, I will be sharing these traditions with you!

Dining al fresco can be upscale, but in my family, it usually means high-quality ingredients in a casual setting. That’s what makes pesto a perfect pairing for outdoor dining. It delivers all that fresh, light flavor while also being so simple to make! Today on From Scratch I’ve partnered with Vitamix to create three unique pesto recipes full of flavor for you to try at your next alfresco gathering. These recipes are sure to become your new summer-time faves! Now, let’s get cooking!

vitamix

For all three pesto recipes I’m using my Certified Reconditioned Vitamix A2500 currently on sale for $279.95 until 7/31/19. This is a kitchen must-have! I love my Vitamix because it’s so versatile and makes complicated recipes seem easy and totally doable. Whether I’m making hot soups, frozen desserts, morning smoothies or even pesto, Vitamix is the perfect tool. If you don’t have one yet, snag yours today while it’s on sale!

crostini

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto: 

I'm obsessed with red bell peppers! It's a running joke in my house that no matter what, I always have red bell peppers on hand. Which is exactly what inspired this Roasted Red Pepper Pesto. This recipe has the perfect balance of creamy and earthy flavors. The ricotta adds a luxuriously rich taste that goes so well with the smokey roasted flavor of the peppers. Add this pesto on anything from pasta to meat, crackers or veggies and it will taste amazing! I'm an Italian girl, which means I can't live without bread, so I’ve taken freshly grilled bread and topped it with the Roasted Red Pepper Pesto then sprinkled on some goat cheese for an added burst of flavor to create a perfect summer crostini. 

roasted red pepper pesto

Ingredients

¾ cup whole milk ricotta cheese 

1 cup roasted red peppers

½ cup pecorino; freshly grated 

1 cup toasted pine nuts 

2 teaspoons fresh oregano 

½ cup fresh basil leaves 

Salt and pepper to taste 

A squeeze of fresh lemon juice 

½ cup olive oil 

Instructions

Step One: Place the pine nuts in a shallow skillet over medium heat; tossing/stirring frequently. Toast until the nuts are fragrant and slightly brown; careful, this won’t take too long!

Step Two: Remove from skillet and allow the pine nuts to cool.

Step Three: Once cool, place the pine nuts and remaining ingredients, excluding the olive oil, into a Vitamix -- I’m using the Certified Reconditioned Vitamix A2500

Step Four: Starting with the Vitamix power on the lowest setting, gradually begin adding the olive oil in through the opening in the lid. *Note - Add about ½ cup olive oil or as much as you like until you reach the consistency you prefer. 

Step Five: Taste for flavor and add more herbs, salt, and pepper as needed to your taste.

roasted red pepper pesto

*Tip: Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. 

Italian Parsley Pesto Drizzle 

This Italian Parsley Pesto Drizzle is my version of a chimichurri sauce, Italian style! This pesto is a great way to add a bright, summery flavor to meat with an herbaceous and acidic pop. It will add a lightness to your meat that is perfect for summertime. I designed this pesto to be a bit more on the drizzly side so it would be perfect for pouring. Grab your Vitamix and let’s blend it up!

vitamix

Ingredients

2 cups (or 1 bunch, roughly) fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley 

2 teaspoons fresh oregano 

½ cup red onion

2 garlic cloves 

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 

1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 

Red pepper flakes; optional 

Salt and pepper to taste 

½ - 1 cup olive oil

Instructions 

Step One: Place all the ingredients in the Vitamix excluding the olive oil. 

Step Two: Start with the Vitamix on low and slowly begin adding in the olive oil through the opening in the lid. *Note: You will want to add enough oil for the pesto to be easily drizzled off a spoon.

Step Three: Taste for flavor and add more herbs, salt, and pepper or lemon juice if needed.

steak

Lemon Basil Pesto

This is my tried and true pesto recipe that I cannot live without. I could literally eat this pesto on ANYTHING, because it tastes so incredible! For my Italian summer gathering, I took spaghetti and grilled shrimp and tossed it with the Lemon Basil Pesto. A few tips to make this dish extra delicious are to toss the cooked pasta with the pesto then leave it over the heat just a little longer so all the pesto flavor really infuses into the pasta. I also save a ½ cup of the pasta water to add to the cooked pasta, shrimp and pesto. This helps to create the ultimate pesto sauce! 

maria provenzano
pasta

Ingredients

3 heaping cups fresh basil

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 garlic cloves

¼-½  cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste.

Instructions

Step One: Place the pine nuts in a shallow skillet over medium heat; tossing/stirring frequently. Toast until the nuts are fragrant and slightly brown; careful, this won’t take too long!

Step Two: Remove from skillet and allow the pine nuts to cool.

Step Three: Once cool, place the pine nuts, basil, grated cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, and garlic cloves into the Vitamix and process on medium to high speed for about 15 seconds. 

Step Four: Starting with the Vitamix power on the lowest setting, gradually begin adding the olive oil in through the opening in the lid. *Note - Add about ½ cup olive oil or as much as you like until you reach the consistency you prefer. 

Step Five: Taste for flavor and add more herbs, salt, and pepper as needed to your taste. 

pesto

*Tip: You can store the pesto in an ice cube tray to easily incorporate into a recipe later. Once frozen transfer the pesto to small freezer bags.

peach and buratta

BONUS Recipe: Take the Lemon Basil Pesto and mix it will a little extra olive oil until it’s a good drizzling consistency and then layer it over a tray of peaches and burrata to make a beautiful summer salad. For a little something “extra” I added some edible flowers to the plate, because let’s be honest, who doesn’t love being extra?

Italian table setting

Set the Scene: Italian-Inspired Summer Gathering

Start with a simple red checkered tablecloth! I’m using this red one that makes me think about my grandpa; he used to have one that looked exactly like this! He was a “no frills” kind of guy and he was known for serving a giant bottle of wine in regular, “no frills,” short glasses. I love how relaxed that makes the table, but I also wanted to ADD some frills! So, to set the scene, I adorned my table up with fresh lemons, large sprigs of rosemary and bunches of beautiful greenery. Italians love to use fresh produce and herbs in however they can, and I love how the scents of these items perfume the table in a really refreshing way. 

I hope you found these recipes and gathering inspiration as fun and inspiring as I did. Now, all that’s left is to enjoy it! As my Grandpa would say, “mangia!” 

If you do, be sure to share it with me on social using #FromScratchwithMaria. And, be sure to order yourself your very own Certified Reconditioned Vitamix A2500 currently on sale for $279.95 until 7/31/19. Click HERE to add one to your cart today! 

Italian table
maria provenzano

This post was created in partnership with Vitamix. As always, all thoughts and ideas are my own.

 
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