Saturday, September 3, 2011

Basil Pesto

I could barely contain my excitement when I saw the flyer; a professor wanted a group of students to adopt a garden plot over the summer to plant, maintain, and harvest. I signed up immediately. The thought of free, organically grown, sun-ripened vegetables at my finger tips made me ecstatic. A few of the things we planted that really flourished were zucchini, tomatoes, basil, cilantro, carrots, and a large variety of lettuces. The other gardener's interest in our gigantic crop of basil seemed minimal so I jumped at the opportunity to put it to good use. 

Brad and I rode our bikes to the garden with two big freezer bags in hand prepared to pick leaves to my heart's content. I ended up with more basil than I probably needed so I had to freeze half of my recipe. My hope is that it will emerge from the freezer as delicious, vibrant green, and wonderfully herby as the first batch. 

This is the whole recipe so if you want to freeze any of the pesto divide it up before you add the parmesan as cheese doesn't freeze very well.

4 cups fresh basil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tbsp fresh chopped garlic
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 tbsp water

Gently wash the basil and pat it dry with a paper towel

Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and add the pine nuts, keep them moving around pretty constantly until you can smell them and they turn light golden brown on the outside 
Take them off the heat and let them cool

Put the basil, garlic, cheese* (not yet if your are going to freeze any of it), and toasted pine nuts in your food processor 
Pulse and slowly add the olive oil and water until you reach the consistency you want, scrape down the sides as needed

I like my pesto very smooth so I pulsed it a lot but I know some like it with a little texture so just process it until it's the consistency you prefer

So far I've made Portabella Mushroom Pesto Pizzas and Pesto, Peas, and Potatoes. This recipe is far better than any store bought pesto I have ever used.

Servings 6
Per serving (a little more than 1/4 cup) 225 calories

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