Here is the “recipe” for my basil pesto. I make this every few weeks during peak basil production (mid-summer), generally two batches at a time. During the summer, there is usually a small jar of fresh pesto in the fridge. It primarily goes on sandwiches or into hot or cold pasta dishes–I’m always looking for new ways to use it up (suggestions welcome)! We only keep out what we can use in a week. The rest will be frozen into pesto ice-cubes, a.k.a. pesto flavor bombs, that we defrost as needed through the winter.
This pesto will be distinctly garlicky, and it should be. Imagine it as part of a creamy or lemony pasta sauce or mixed into meatballs or as a garnish for a cheesy potato soup and the intensity will make more sense. Generally, we get through all the previous summer’s pesto by early spring the following year. I’m already sizing up my new plants.
Why walnuts? It’s true that pine nuts are traditional, but given recent pine nut prices, I can compromise. Consider this February 2013 Bloomberg article “Pine Nuts Rate Foie Gras Prices as Bugs to Drought Cut Harvests,” then decide for yourself. Pine nuts, or even cashews, can easily be substituted here. Enjoy!
Yields… well that’s a good question. I’ve never measured the end product. I consider this one batch because this is what fits neatly in my food processor.
- about 3 cups fresh basil leaves, washed and stems removed
- 3-5 cloves garlic, banged open and woody nubs removed
- 3/4 cup walnuts (or pine nuts)
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup+ extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- salt and pepper to taste
Place basil, garlic, and walnuts with a pinch of salt into the bowl of your food processor and pulse until well chopped.
With the processor running, slowly stream in the olive oil until the mixture has a smooth consistency. Stop occasionally to push everything down into the mix. If you start to hear a slopping sound–as soon as you hear it–stop! There is enough oil in there.
Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and pulse quickly to combine (do not over process the cheese). Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
Use It or Store It
To preserve short-term, put the pesto into a sealable glass jar in the fridge, cover the surface with a thin coat of oil. It will last for about 5 days.
To preserve long-term, spoon the pesto into an ice-cube tray (about 2 tablespoons per cube), freeze, then remove from ice-cube tray and store in plastic freezer bags until needed. (Vacuum-seal bags work best for this.)
To enjoy immediately, after you have divided up your long- and short-term portions, wipe out the inside of the bowl with a piece of crusty bread, eat. Be sure to remove the blade from your food processor first (duh).