Monday, July 21, 2008
Perfect Pronto Pesto
The garden bounty is starting to roll in. Our basil is thriving in our square foot garden, so much so that my youngest gardener harvested 6 cups of basil leaves yesterday, and today the plants look like another harvesting from the same plants will be needed in the near future.
I love basil. How about you? I adore the way it smells, the way it tastes, the texture of the leaves, and how it adds such great depth of flavor to sandwiches, soups, pasta, pizza, salad, meats, veggies, dips and sauces. Did I miss anything? In the summer, one of my most favorite sandwiches is slices of mozzerella, tomato, and basil leaves on a hearty slice of bread. Drizzle a tad of olive oil, a splash of vinegar, salt, and pepper, and then top with another slice of bread. Yum, yum, yum!
With six cups of basil on hand, the recipe that sang out to me was "pesto". My homemade pesto is very subtly flavored, gluten free, and can be used on sandwiches, soups, pasta, pizza, salad, meats, veggies, dips, and sauces. I only use toasted pine nuts, not plain pine nuts, nor do I use walnuts or almonds or whatever nut is in vogue at the time. And for goodness sake, take the extra 3 minutes it takes to toast the pine nuts first. It makes such a difference in flavor. I don't enjoy eating pesto's that are chunky, nor do I want to bite into a huge chunk of raw garlic. Using the food processor produces a smooth pesto and makes assembly a snap. It takes more time to read the recipe and assemble the ingredients than it takes to make the pesto. This is the best pesto you'll ever eat. You'll never want that stuff from the grocery store shelves again. I promise. Start your timer.
4 cups loosely packed fresh basil
1/2 cup olive oil (I used a little less; feel free to use more)
1/4 cup pine nuts TOASTED
2 garlic cloves
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons Pecorino Romano
Several hearty grinds of sea salt to taste (optional)
Put the basil, oil, toasted pine nuts, and garlic into your food processor bowl. Pulse about 6 times. Add the cheeses, and process again until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning with sea salt if necessary. I tend to like my pesto a little thicker so that when I use it in recipes, it won't create too much oil in the dish. You can easily make yours thinner by adding more olive oil.
Yuuuuum!!! Try to restrain yourself from eating it by the spoonful. Hmm, perhaps I should taste it again, just to make sure it's seasoned perfectly. Just one more bite .... or two.