That’s it. Just simple, fresh, and quite amazing. Make sure you use good ingredients. If you don’t grow basil (and it’s really easy to grow it, even in a pot on your windowsill), head over to your Farmer’s Market– it’s in season and really fragrant right now. Get good Parmesan, not that dry stuff in a can (what is that anyway?). And, good quality olive oil.
It doesn’t take much time to make, and it freezes really well, so it’s a great way to enjoy summer.
Traditionally, pesto is served over pasta, but you can serve it as a spread over sandwiches , make pesto pizza, serve on bruschetta, use as a garnish for soup, or serve it with grilled fish or chicken. You can also toss veggies like potatoes, green beans, or corn in pesto for a great side dish.
The ingredients in pesto can be really flexible as well. Try something different, like cilantro, spinach, sage, or parsley instead of basil. (mint anyone?) Or try almonds, walnuts, or pumpkin seeds instead of pine nuts.
You’ve heard that pesto is high in calories because of all that oil? Well, keep in mind that these are all good fats, and natural foods. But, if you want to cut the calories a bit, trade half of the oil for water (the pasta cooking water will work very well).
And, I thought this was an interesting bit of knowledge that the pine nut bag provided, “Pine nuts cannot be grown under modern commercial conditions. The small scrubby trees grow on mountainsides at elevations of 5000-7000 feet. All operations are done by hand. The trees grow slowly and do not bear until 25 years old. At age 75 there is enough for commercial harvesting.”
Please enjoy your pesto!
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- 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- ½ cup olive oil (or more if needed)
- Salt and pepper
- Process the first four ingredients in a food processor to a rough paste. With the machine running, slowly pour the olive oil through the tube. If the sauce seems dry (it should be a thick paste) add a little more olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Use immediately or store in a covered jar (press plastic wrap directly onto the pesto to prevent discoloration) in the refrigerator for up to one week. Pesto may be frozen up to 2 months.