Blissfully Delicious

Pesto

I love cooking with fresh herbs, but unfortunately they come with a rather hefty price tag, usually about $4.99 for a small bunch.  If I don’t use them all up right away, they will turn bad in a few days and I would feel guilty about not cooking with them sooner. Every summer, I always tell myself that I would grow my own garden (both herbs and vegetables). But then for the past few years that I have been able to start the garden, they always end up dead before the summer is even over. This year, my pepper plant died when I took a week of vacation. Sigh! I have however, discovered the next best alternative for my love for fresh herbs: buying them at farmer markets! They have bunches of freshly picked herbs with a fraction of the cost of what I would pay in regular grocery stores. This pesto was one dish that I have been wanting to make for the longest time using fresh basil, and finally I got around to making them. This recipe is slightly “non-traditional” because it uses walnuts in addition to the pine nuts. I was really impressed with how fresh and complex the flavor was, and how easy this was to put together. It is important that you find the best cheese and olive oil that you can find since it will make a HUGE impact on the flavor. It scores extra points because it is freezer friendly. It is definitely a nice change from the tomato-based sauces for our pasta night.

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties

Ingredients
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Directions
Place the walnuts, pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.

Notes: Air is the enemy of pesto. For freezing, pack it in containers with a film of oil or plastic wrap directly on top with the air pressed out.

To clean basil, remove the leaves, swirl them in a bowl of water, and then spin them very dry in a salad spinner. Store them in a closed plastic bag with a slightly damp paper towel. As long as the leaves are dry they will stay green for several days.

Yield: 4 cups

   

6 Responses to “Pesto”

  1. #
    1
    Natalie — September 11, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    yummy! Homemade pesto is the best, great recipe.

    • h2babe — September 11th, 2011 @ 8:44 pm

      Yes I agree. Thanks for the comment and visit.

  2. #
    2
    Tim in TN — September 11, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    I always use walnuts with pine nuts for pesto…I think it softens the flavor nicely. And a secret for keeping your pesto green…blanch the basil for 15 seconds in boiling water, quickly dunk in ice water, then use as directed. It’s amazing how green your basil will stay! Yours looks beautiful, btw.

    • h2babe — September 11th, 2011 @ 8:45 pm

      Tim, thanks for the tips of blanching the basil leaves to keep the green color, I’d definitely try that next time… I’d also try adding walnuts next time. Thanks for the visit and comment.

  3. #
    3
    Mario Grazia — September 14, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Ciao, usually in Italy we don’t use walnuts, and I think 3 tablespoons of chopped garlic are too much: the taste will be very strong. I suggest to use only 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped.
    The traditional ligurian recipe involves the use of Pecorino cheese too, together with the Parmigiano-Reggiano and for best results, you should to use a mortar in marble but if you don’t have it, you can use a food processor, but be sure to use it on low speed to avoid overheating the basil leaves.

    To maintain the bright green color, you can put the bowl of the food processor in the freezer, or add some ice cubes to the basil leaves.

    If you need a recipe, the most classic ligurian recipe with pesto are “Trenette al pesto”:
    http://www.academiabarilla.com/recipes/l…

    PS: pinenuts in Italian is “pinoli”

    Ciao
    Mario Grazia

    • h2babe — September 14th, 2011 @ 9:16 pm

      Mario, thank you for your visit and for taking the time to provide suggestion to make it even better!! I will definitely try those! Ciao :)

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