Thursday, July 28, 2011

Basil Pesto

My fescue lawn has gone dormant for summer, but the rest of the "softscape" is thriving in the hot, humid Southern summer. The crape myrtle is blooming, the chocolate vines are climbing, the fig tree is healthy, the maples, hollies and boxwood are hearty and the herbs in my 4 "kitchen garden" containers are happy. They're so happy, the herbs are outpacing my cooking. I keep up with the mint, parsley, chives, tomatoes, thyme, dill and rosemary. I need to find some uses for the sage...but it's more of an autumn taste for me! The basil, however, is growing very fast!

Every few weeks I make a batch of basil pesto...three 1/2 pint containers...enough for me and a little to give away.

My go-to recipe is Ina Garten's homemade pesto from the "Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics" cookbook.

Homemade Pesto (makes 4 cups)

1/4 cup walnuts (I use pecans, as I'm allergic to walnuts)
1/4 cup pine nuts (I keep them frozen, so I toast the pine nuts and pecans lightly to release the flavor)
3 tbs chopped garlic (9-10 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil (by that Ina means extra virgin olive oil. She favors Calif, I use Italian or French)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Here's the process and some pix from the batch I made today. It takes 30 mins, and most of that time is spent picking the leaves!

Clean basil by removing any tough stems and swirling leaves in a bowl of water. Spin dry in a salad spinner.

Place the walnuts (or pecans), pine nuts and garlic cloves in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process for 30 seconds.

Add the basil leaves, salt and pepper.

With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is finely pureed.

Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute.

Serve or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.

The olive oil on top prevents the pesto from turning black!

Ready to serve, to store or for gifties ;-)

Dale's tip--if you want to take the "edge" off the garlic, roast a whole head in the oven, then add the mellow cloves to the food processor.

No comments:

Post a Comment