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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Pesto

I love pesto so it's a good thing I grow my own basil almost every year. I used to think about selling pesto, but I'm not sure everyone loves it as much as I do. Also, if I sold it I couldn't squirrel it away and give it away like I do.

Original recipes for basil pesto use pine nuts. I've never made it with anything except pecans.

Pesto is good in pasta, chicken, pasta salad, soups, potatoes, pizza.... It can be brushed on bread and toasted a little in the oven. It can be put in calzones and brushed on top. You can add sun dried tomatoes or chopped fresh tomatoes when you use it in whatever you're cooking. You can throw a lump into your spaghetti sauce for a quick boost of flavor. It can be overdone, so be careful of turning everything green or using too much.

You can process it very finely into a paste, or make it a little coarse. You can use more or less spinach, or none at all. More or less garlic to taste also. Once you've made it and tasted it on your noodles you can decide how strong to make it next time. Of course fresh basil is best, but people also make it with dried basil and fresh spinach. If you freeze pesto you can leave out the cheese if you want, adding it to your dish later. Some people say the cheese doesn't freeze very well.

Pesto!

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, firmly packed (no branches)
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach
  • ½ cup Parmesan or Romano cheese (the better the quality, the better the taste)
  • ½ cup pecans
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ fruit fresh or lemon juice (optional. Just keeps it brighter green)
  • ½ cup olive oil

Pack your measuring cup with the basil, but this isn't an exact science.




Place all ingredients except the oil into a food processor and pulse until you make a paste. This will take quite a few pulses, scraping down the sides each time if you want a smoother paste. You can make it the old fashioned way, chopping and smashing by hand if you like. I'll be eating mine on hot pasta with my feet up
while you're still looking for a big sharp knife!
Once it's to your desired consistency start adding the oil slowly as the machine runs.
Smell that heavenly smell!

Once it's processed I keep some in a jar in the fridge and freeze the rest in doubled sandwich baggies which are then placed into a quart size freezer bag. I turn a baggie inside out on my hand and squish it in there. I know, it looks weird, but it's green gold!
(originally posted in July 2009)

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