Thursday, September 15, 2011

Basil Pesto

So what do you do when you have tons of basil? Like so much that all those basil leaves barely fit into your largest colander? Make pesto, of course! Pesto is literally one of my favorite things on the planet. I like it on pasta the best. I have fond memories of my dad making pesto in the summer from basil in his garden. We would eat it on spaghetti. Delicious. But close second is a mozzarella, tomato, and pesto sandwich on rustic whole grain bread grilled to perfection. It's also awesome drizzled onto some of my favorite soups like this one. Oh my goodness, my mouth is watering.
Pesto is traditionally made with pine nuts and that's just fabulous, but have you seen the price of pine nuts lately? Like, it's absolutely insane. So I make mine with walnuts and honestly, it's pretty great. I don't miss the pine nuts at all actually. And my bank account thinks it's great, too.

Basil Pesto

1 very large bunch basil, leaves removed from stems, discard the stems
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese (or a mix of both)
1 large garlic clove
pinch of sea salt, or more to taste
 1/4-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Put the garlic clove and walnuts in a food processor and process until pasty, yet still retaining some graininess. Add the cheese and salt and pulse again.

2. Add the basil leaves (you may have to do this in batches if you have a lot of basil and depending on the size of the food processor). Pulse while drizzling olive oil through the feeder until you have a desired consistency. Some like pesto very creamy and some like it with a bit of texture. I like texture and lots of oil, so that's how I make mine.

3. Taste and adjust for salt and add more cheese if you'd like. Store pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Unfortunately, pesto oxidizes very quickly and you lose the bright green color if you don't put enough olive oil in it. It also helps to put a nice layer of olive oil over the pesto in the container that you choose to store it in. The flavor is not affected by this oxidation, though. It still tastes fabulous, it just may not be super bright green.

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