Today’s plans to work in the weed garden got cancelled due to rain. I’m grateful for the rain, though, we needed it. And its not like I don’t have plenty of other things to keep me busy and out of the rain! I’ve been noticing lately that the basil bushes are getting out of control and have been meaning to make pesto but kept forgetting to pick up pine nuts at the store. I wish I could do pesto without the nuts since that is always the one thing I don’t have on hand, plus they are expensive if I want to make a whole bunch of pesto at one time. But the pine nuts are so yummy so….whatcha gonna do? Chris usually makes the pesto but today I had him show me how he does it, step by step, and wrote down his recipe so I can make it myself in the future and so I can share it with you!
*Note- Chris doesn’t use measurements when he is cooking but I tried to measure everything as he went along. All of these measurements are approximations which can be adjusted based on your preferences and the amount of flavor in the particular ingredients you are using. We like our pesto pretty potent, if you prefer a milder version add more cheese!
- 1cup chopped basil, well packed (about 3 cups whole basil leaves, well packed– it shrinks a lot when you chop it!)
- 1/4-1/2 cup pine nuts
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1/2c EVOO
- juice from half a lemon
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4-1/2c shredded Parmesan cheese
Start by roasting your pine nuts to give them extra flavor. Put them in a pan on the stove and gently swirl them around, tossing them occasionally, until they start to brown and smell good. You just want them to have a little bit of color but not get dark and burnt. You will know they are done when they smell warm and toasty but not burnt.
Next, chop up your garlic and put it in a food processor.
We use a Magic Bullet style food processor. With a small food processor like ours we have to add the basil and other ingredients about 1/4 cup at a time, with larger food processors you could probably add it all at once. Start by blending the garlic, basil and EVOO and then gradually add the salt, lemon juice, pine nuts and finally the cheese.
Blend until everything is well mixed. The texture won’t be completely smooth but you shouldn’t have chunks or be able to distinguish the individual ingredients anymore. I.e. there shouldn’t be any hard bits of pine nut visible.
Since I am planning to make a lot of pesto in the next week or so in order to take advantage of our basil explosion, I will be freezing most of it. I use my trusty ice-cube trays for this. Some people like to put a layer of EVOO on top of each cube to prevent the pesto from turning dark on the surface where it touches the air. Since I’m not going to be storing them in the trays (once frozen I’ll remove them and store in freezer bags) I don’t really see the point in doing this.
To use, defrost a couple of cubes and mix with pasta, spread on pizza or whatever. We like to sprinkle a bit of extra shredded Parmesan on top when serving because its pretty and adds some interesting texture.