If there is one reason to grow fresh basil in your backyard, making pesto is it. The essential ingredient in pesto is FRESH Italian basil or genovese basil. Fresh basil is fairly easy to find in the super market, but you do need quite a bit of it to make a batch of pesto. The best way to make pesto is to grow a whole bunch in your garden or home, harvest it and make a large batch. Pesto holds up pretty well in the freezer, and you can enjoy the flavors of summer when your freezing your ass off in winter.
Traditionally pesto is made by mashing the ingredients with a mortar and pestle, if you want that old world feel, go for it. If you want to eat this deliciousness sooner rather than later, a food processor works well too.
- 2 Cups FRESH packed basil
- 2 Large garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 Pecorino Romano cheese or Parmigiano Reggiano
- 2 tbsp pine nuts
- salt & pepper to taste
In a food processor pulse the basil, garlic, and pine nuts. Once you have a thick looking paste, begin to slowly pour in the olive oil while blending, until you achieve a smooth emulsified paste. There should be no chunks of pine nuts or garlic. Then transfer the sauce from the food processor into a serving bowl or storage container and mix in the Pecorino Romano well, avoid lumps, mix in salt and pepper to taste. Finally, mix the pesto into pasta and serve.
- Remember Pecorino and Parmigiana are naturally salty, so you do not need too much salt.
- Also be mindful to avoid adding large clumps of cheese, you want the sauce to be an even smooth texture.
- To add a depth of flavor, try toasting pine nuts in a nonstick pan prior to adding in food processor.
- To preserve that bright green basil color, try blanching the leaves, basil leaves will turn a dark green put in food processor, or mashed with mortar and pestle.
- To store pesto, put it in a mason jar or tupperware and even the top out with a spoon or by tapping the bottom of the jar on the counter. Then gently add olive oil to form a protective top layer on top of the pesto and freeze (don’t freeze in glass jar). Pesto will keep like this in the fridge for a while.