Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Homemade Pesto

One of the herbs I decided to grow in my home garden was basil. Basil has a delicious aroma and distinct taste, and it grows quickly and extremely easily in any home garden. So when I inspected the garden this morning and noticed an abundance of large leaves, ready to be harvested, I decided it was time to do something interesting with them. I didn't want the plants to go to seed (when the leaves become smaller and don't grow as fast), so I harvested both the two plants I have, entirely.

I decided to make pesto, using a very standard recipe. Pesto is a paste made from basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. Some recipes call for Romano, which has a stronger flavor, but I think the decision is purely subjective.

First, I used two packed cups of basil leaves, which filled my entire blender. I don't recommend using a blender actually because there isn't enough liquid to get it to blend well. I used a spice mill, but I would recommend a food processor or something similar.

I added 1/3 cup pine nuts and pulsed my spice mill, then 3 cloves of garlic and pulsed some more. Then, I slowly drizzled about 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil while blending.

Lastly, I added 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese and pulsed my spice mill until well-blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.

What a gorgeous color. The aroma made me want to make pasta that instant, which I did. The pasta needed nothing more than to be tossed with the sauce. I was so delighted with the dish that I didn't bother adding a protein, like chicken. Pesto is a great use for your basil, if you have an abundance of it. The homemade version beats the store-bought version any day. Try it at sometime!

Recipe: Fresh Homemade Pesto

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

2 Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Makes 1 cup.

1 comment:

  1. if you have too much, you can put them in a ice cube tray and freeze them. it'll be portioned out for easy use in the future.