I’ve had quite a few people ask me for a decent pesto recipe lately. It seems that this summer’s intense heat made everyone’s basil plants explode! While there are a gazillion reasons why I think you should grow basil in your herb garden, fresh pesto tops my list. It takes just a few minutes of your time to make, but there are so many ways you can use it. Toss it with some pasta, stuff it into a pork tenderloin before you throw it on the grill, drizzle it over some sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese, dilute it with a little more olive oil and use it as a marinade, mix it with a little mayo and use it on a sandwich, pour some over a block of cream cheese and serve it with crackers as a quick appetizer. Or, if you’re my oldest daughter, you could eat it with a spoon and find that perfectly acceptable! It’s good stuff.
The recipe for pesto that I use most often calls for pine nuts. I know that there are a lot of nut allergies out there, so if you’d prefer a no-nut pesto, check out this link from Two Peas and Their Pod for a French Pistou. The recipes are quite similar.
Making this pesto is as easy as toasting some pine nuts, pushing the “PULSE” button on your food processor a few times and then stirring in some cheese. Easy peasy.
You’ll end up with about a cup of pesto. That doesn’t sound like much, but it doesn’t take a whole lot of pesto to pack a big flavor punch. I usually use half (sometimes even less) of the batch I’ve made that day and then I freeze the rest to use later. I’ve made so much pesto this summer that I’ve taken to freezing it in an ice-cube tray. Just spray the tray with nonstick spray, spoon the pesto into it, freeze it overnight and then pop the pesto cubes into a freezer bag where they can hang out in your freezer for a few months. They defrost quickly, so when you need some pesto, just grab however many cubes you want and let them sit out for about 30 minutes.
So, next time your basil plant is overflowing, don’t despair! Whip up a batch of pesto and it can keep you happy long after summer has come and gone.
BASIC BASIL PESTO
- Makes about 1 cup
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
- ¼ cup toasted, and cooled, pine nuts
- 1 garlic clove
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- ⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil (maybe more, maybe less, depending on how thick you like your pesto)
- ½ - ⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- In a food processor, combine basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper. Pulse until finely chopped. With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture is smooth and thick. Pour mixture into a bowl and stir in the cheese. Start with ½ cup, but if it looks too thin, stir in a little more. Season with more salt and pepper, if desired. Keep, covered, in the refrigerator for 2-3 days or freeze.
Oh, and this is what we had for dinner that night. 🙂
Bowties with Pesto, Grilled chicken, Cherry Tomatoes and Mozzarella