During the Summer and early Fall, there is an abundance of fresh basil and I am unable to walk past the giant bunches at our local farmers market. Basil is an herb I prefer to use fresh rather than dried and I use it often. At the top of the list for ways to use basil is pesto. Garlic, fresh parmesan, olive oil and basil (and pignoli/pine nuts) all the makings of classic Italian flavors and produce a sauce that has endless possibilities for how to enjoy it. Homemade pesto, like many things, is so much better when you make it yourself with fresh, quality ingredients.
If I’m going to make a batch, I double it and then freeze the pesto in ice cube trays so I have one tablespoon portions on hand for months. Once the pesto is frozen, I transfer the cubes to a zip top bag. I drop a couple of cubes into Bolognese for the perfect depth of flavor, on a toasted baguette topped with tomatoes, spread on a panini, drizzled on pizza, tossed with pasta and so on, and so on. A big batch of pesto is the gift that keeps on giving. The food processor does all the work and the most time-consuming part of the process is cleaning the basil, which can be sandy. Most recipes for pesto call for pignoli nuts but if you don’t have any on hand, you can use another nut. Salt is also in the traditional recipe but I don’t put any salt in mine. Since I use it in so many different dishes, I prefer to season once I add the pesto so I can control the amount of salt.
5 cups Fresh, cleaned basil leaves, firmly packed.
¼ cup Pignoli nuts (also known as pine nuts)
5 cloves Garlic
1 cup Freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 ¼ cup Good, extra virgin olive oil
In a food processor add the garlic, pignoli nuts, and basil. Mix while drizzling in the olive oil. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the cheese. Pulse till combined.
Transfer to ice cube trays and freeze if not using immediately.