Perfect-o Pesto

For the most delicious pesto, try this recipe. It’s a great way to use up fresh basil and you cannot beat it:

4 Tbsp toasted pinoli / pignoli nuts (“pine nuts”) or toasted almonds
2 to 3 cloves garlic (adjust to taste)
1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
3 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese or pecorino-romano cheese
1 tsp fresh lemon juice (optional)
1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil or sunflower oil
1 pinch ground nutmeg
sea salt and pepper to taste

Almonds can be toasted by placing on a cookie sheet and baking for 10 minutes in a 450 degree oven or by using a hot, dry skillet on the stovetop. Adjust oven to 350 degrees for pine nuts or use the skillet method over medium heat. Be sure to stir the pine nuts often and remove from heat as soon as golden in color as they burn easily.

Clean basil leaves with moist paper towel. Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until a coarse paste is formed. You can also make pesto in the traditional way, using a large mortar and pestle (pésto, from pestare, “to pound, to crush”) or by using a mezzaluna to chop all of the ingredients. The amount of oil can be adjusted depending on if you like your pesto with a thicker or thinner consistency.

This pesto recipe is absolutely delicious when used in pastas and soups as well as on grilled or poached chicken, fish, grilled or baked vegetables, tomatoes, bread, sandwiches, pizza dough, and as a dip for fresh vegetables. It’s an especially yummy treat on crackers with some chopped up tomatoes!

If you wish to freeze some, you can do so by using an ice cube tray. Once frozen, place cubes in a freezer bag and return to freezer.

For information on growing, harvesting, preserving, and other recipes and ideas for basil, see: Basil – “King of Herbs” herb profile.

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