Basil is a staple in my garden. Even if I never used it for food, I think I would still plant it because of it's rich aromatic smell. One of my summer traditions has become harvesting some of the basil to make pesto. It is a fairly simple recipe. I usually double or triple it so I will have plenty to save and freeze.
2 cups (2 oz) firmly packed fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2-3 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts
1/2- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly grpund pepper
1 cup (8 fl oz) mild olive oil
1/2 cup (2 oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
In a food processor fitted with the metal blade or in a blender, combine the basil, garlic, nuts, salt and pepper. (Be careful when adding the salt, as the cheese that is added later can be salty.) Process until well combined. Add 1/2 cup of the olive oil and puree using short on-off pulses. Stir between pulses to blend well. Add the remaining 1/2 cup oil and the cheese and process to form a thick puree. Do not overprocess; the mixture should have a little texture. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper. Transfer to a covered container and store in the refrigerator.
Use pesto in pasta, pizza, crostini and grilled vegetables. It can also be thinned with olive oil or vinegar for a salad dressing or a sauce for grilled fish.
Pesto keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Be sure to pour a thin layer of olive oil on top; this keeps it from discoloring. It can also be frozen for up to 6 months, but do not add the cheese until after it is defrosted.
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