Tucked beneath my tomato plants you'll find an abundance of basil. This year, like with many herbs, I grew a diverse bunch of basil, just for the heck of it. I've got thai basil, Marseilles, spicy bush basil, genovese, lemon basil & purple ruffles (more on that one later.) Much of my basil ends up torn over tomatoes and sprinkled over pizza, but my favorite use - for all these tender leaves - is pesto.
Paired with walnuts, olive oil, parmigiana reggiano, and garlic - you can't go wrong. This heady scent transports me to my childhood. Growing up with Italian neighbors was life altering. Almost every day from age 5-12 i feasted on fresh pasta, sun dried tomatoes, fresh fruits, ripe vegetables, cookies & OH the pesto. We ran around the yard with a bowl of fresh spaghetti & just made pesto. Heaven on earth. So here's how I make mine:
Ingredients: - as much basil as you can find, I recommend at least 8-10 cups, washed & dried - 1 cup of shelled walnuts - 1 cup of parmigiana, grated - 1/2 to 1 cup of olive oil (always extra virgin) - 2-3 cloves of garlic (big & fat, stickier the better!)
Method: - blitz the garlic in the food processor, sometimes I teensy pinch of kosher salt helps it along. - add half of your basil leaves, pulse 5-10 times until it starts to look pasty. - add the rest of your basil and the walnuts, pulse until it starts to come together - add the cheese & pulse while you drizzle in the olive oil. At some point stop & smell your pesto. Then taste it for seasoning and consistency. If its too coarse, add more oil and keep blitzing
At first, I store mine in a large plastic or glass container in the fridge. Top it with olive oil to keep the pesto from browning. After a few days, it goes into the ice cube tray & freezer. Once set I toss the cubes of summer into freezer bags. There's nothing like tomato basil soup from your garden - in February!
So what else is pesto good with? How about slathered on top of toasted bread with some slices of tomato & chards of fontina cheese?
Or how about stirred through pasta? Makes a delicious & quick dinner!
What's your favorite way to use pesto?