I absolutely LOVE fresh basil and one of the favorite things I like to do with it is make fresh pesto. There are a lot of recipes out there for pesto.
They basically combine fresh basil, nuts (usually pine nuts), garlic, olive oil, Parmesan, Romano or some similar cheese, and season with salt and pepper. My version varies by the ingredients I have on hand (or usually don’t have on hand). This is the way I made it today and no one is complaining….
Fresh Basil Pesto
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese (fresh grated is always best, but not always in my house)
1/3 cup pine nuts (I’ve seen Walnuts and Brazil nuts substituted, but never tried them as I really like the taste of pine nuts even tho’ they are spendy).
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (I usually use 1/2 cup, but was short on olive oil)
6+ medium sized garlic cloves, minced (most recipes seem to call for 2-4 cloves, but we like garlic and have some fresh from the garden)
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (Good quality salt and pepper really brightens the taste, IMHO).
1. Combine the basil with the pine nuts in a food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Add garlic and pulse a few more times until evenly chopped.
2. Slowly add the olive oil in a stream while the food processor is on. Stop half ways through to scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
3. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Season with salt and pepper.
Pesto can be served in numerous ways, but my favorite way is to cook some fresh whole wheat pasta and put a couple tablespoons on a serving. You can also put it on pizza, pasta with marinara sauce, or even a dollop or two in homemade soup. The possibilities are endless 🙂