Monday, June 29, 2009


I love pesto, especially homemade pesto using the basil from our garden. There are so many ways to consume it: as a pasta sauce (especially over cheese-filled ravioli), slathered on Publix's wheat french baguette bread topped with tomatoes or just as a dip. Over the years, I have tried different pesto recipes but recently I found one from Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave that I like the best. Now, I am all about easy as long as quality is not sacrificed. With that in mind, I made some adaptions to her original recipe.

Basil Pesto:
1/4 c pine nuts
1 clove garlic, peeled (I only use fresh)
3 c of lightly packed fresh basil leaves (I use a mix of regular and spicy basil)
1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I use a bit more- see below)
1 T fresh lemon juice
1/4 c olive oil ( I use finest I can buy - always use first cold-pressed)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (ground sea salt or kosher is best)

I totally disregarded her instructions and made up my own because she has more time on her hands than I do.

First, when you harvest basil, stick them in a vase with water and leave out by your sink. They will keep fine like that for a couple of days. Do not wash until you are ready to use. I find that refrigeration produces black spots quicker.

If you have time, toast pine nuts. Otherwise, skip this section and just use raw pine nuts. Also, if I am out of pine nuts, I use whatever nuts I have on hand- such as almonds or pecans. You can toast on a pan under the broiler or in a skillet.  I prefer a skillet, stirring occasionally until they are golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside. 
In the photo below, I did a whole bag of pine nuts at once because I am always making pesto. The leftover goes into the fridge for the next time I make a batch.

Now, I am not a grater. If it can not be grated using my Kitchen Aid mixer or Punkin, it does not get grated. Hence, I cut about 1/4 or more of Parmesan cheese and drop the block into the food processor.

In the food processor, combine the garlic clove, block of cheese and nuts. Run it until it is chopped and well mixed. Scrap sides down.

While processor is running, put in your basil.

With processor still running, add lemon juice. If you want to squeeze your own lemon juice, have at it. Just put lemon in micro for a couple of seconds so it will be easier to glean all of the juice.

With processor still running, add olive oil. Try to use a good quality extra-virgin olive oil since it does give it a lighter taste.

Stop processor, scrape down the sides, add salt & pepper. Whirl it for a couple of seconds more and then serve or refrigerate or freeze in ice cube trays.

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