Got Basil – Got Garlic
Let’s make pesto!
I’ve had no less than 3 inquiries about my pesto recipe in the last week, so it sounds like it’s time. My basil and garlic are ready to go, so rather than wait another minute, here is my “not so secret” recipe.
Basil and garlic are among those Mediterranean medicinal herbs that are supposed to do great things for your health… and since they are so delicious, why not have them year round!
Traditionally, pesto is made with a mortar and pestle – thus the name pesto. It is said to have origins in northern Africa, been domesticated in India, and perfected in Genoa, Italy. Leave it to me to have to come up with my own recipe for the stuff, but I had some modern criteria I wanted my pesto to meet.
I wanted something that I could store and it would stay fresh throughout the long Montana winter. I did not want to use pine nuts as I have had too many with an off/fishy taste. A lot of the pestos I had tried were swimming in olive oil, thin and runny. I thought mine should have less oil and more basil. Also, with a food processor in my pantry, I was not about to use the mortar and pestle method.
This recipe is simple and only takes a few minutes to make, and you can enjoy it until the basil grows again next year. (PS – plant more basil next year.)
(makes about 4 – 5 cups)
4 cups packed (pack as many leaves as you can into a 4 cup measure), fresh picked, cleaned, and dry basil leaves
(I use both the Genovese and the larger lettuce leaf varieties, The salad spinner makes quick work of the wash and spin, then I lay them out on a towel to dry, fluffing them a couple of times to assist in the drying process.)
6 large cloves of garlic, peeled
2 cups of walnuts
1 1/2 cups of shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese
2 teaspoons of salt, or to taste
3/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup olive oil
I start with the garlic and the lemon juice in the food processor. Once the garlic is finely minced, I add the 4 cups of basil leaves and mince those.
Add the salt, walnuts, and cheese and the mixture will be very heavy.
With the food processor running, I drizzle the olive oil into the tube and continue to let it work until the whole thing comes together into a beautiful, creamy, light green color.
I then taste to see if it meets my satisfaction. You can add more salt, more lemon juice, or more oil to your taste and process again until it is well blended and creamy.
Then put the pesto into jars or freezer safe containers that will hold about ½ to 1 cup each. I use half pints, the tapered jelly jars work fine too. Put them right into the freezer. The pesto will retain it’s beautiful, fresh, light green color while frozen.
Before you plan to use it, move a jar to the refrigerator to thaw. It will keep for weeks in the refrigerator. Once opened it will gradually oxidize on the top. This is normal and doesn’t hurt anything.
Here are just a couple of suggestions for using your pesto, beyond the linguine that is…
How about spreading it on a loaf of french bread, top with a little mozzarella and broil, or toss it with some new potatoes or green beans, make a green pizza by spreading it on the dough instead of a red sauce – then top with chopped tomatoes and a little mozzarella for a different style Margarita pizza. I have even known someone that spreads it on a turkey sandwich as a condiment. Let me know if you discover any great new uses for it, and I will be sharing some additional pesto uses as time goes on.
(Just as I was finishing this post, my husband came in and told me our neighbor was recovering from a fall. I decided to make a casserole for him using the left over pesto and a cabbage I had sitting on the counter – see the next post.)