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Purple Basil Pesto

Pesto is green. And naturally so -- because after all, the protagonist in pesto's universal story is basil -- succulent, fragrant, leafy green basil. And sometimes, cilantro, parsley, or dill is used to create an ‘alternate’ kind of pesto that’s ultimately still very green. It never occurred to me that there'd be another color to basil though, until in my recent routine trips to the local supermarket, where they had this amazing rack of purple ruffle basil (otherwise known as red basil). What color pesto would this awesome shade make? Ponder ponder. A little more pondering let me to a slightly revolutionary pesto-based idea when I got home -- since we're using purple basil instead of green, why not substitute all the other ingredients for their 'analogous' siblings? Purple pesto instead of green, shaved almonds instead of pine nuts, Egyptian Rumy cheese instead of Parmesan. Here I stood in front of this irresistible bouquet of purple basil, and then there I was, deciding on the spot that I’d be making purple pesto, just as my hand pulled two ruffly bunches off the rack... what could possibly go wrong?

... absolutely nothing. This was probably one of the best pesto sauces I've ever made -- same grainy texture as the usual pesto recipe, same pungent basil scent, same intoxicating cheesy-olive aroma mixed in with the basil’s, and the kick of garlic and chill combined. A delight, honestly, and strangely also not as purple in color as I expected (more greyish, with hints of purple and green here and there. So odd!). Enjoy this recipe on chicken, pasta, with potatoes -- knock yourself out!


  • 2 cups fresh purple basil, packed

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 2/3 cup olive oil

  • 1/4 shaved almonds

  • 1/4 cup Egyptian Rumy cheese

  • 1/2 red chili pepper (optional)

  • salt and pepper to taste


• Pulse all the ingredients in a blender or food processor a few times, then continuously until fully incorporated. Pause and scrape down the sides of the processor if necessary.

• Use in your dishes as you please, or store in an air-tight container in the fridge, or freeze. And that's it!

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