Every year I plant basil in the Spring and by Summer's end, the plants have gone crazy. Matt's not a big fan of it in salads and sandwiches like me, so I usually can't use it up fast enough. The unseasonably warm weather we've been having has caused my withered plants to have a tiny revival, so I decided to blend up a batch of Pesto.
This is a pretty straightforward recipe. Most pesto recipes call for pinenuts, but I have also made it with walnuts with equally tasty results! You can use Parmesan or Romano cheese. Romano has a bit stronger flavor. By quickly dipping the basil leaves in boiling water, it will help the pesto keep it's vibrant green color longer, even when frozen and defrosted.
2 cups fresh basil leaves packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spread nuts evenly on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven until golden and fragrant, tossing once, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool completely.
Meanwhile, bring 4 cups salted water to a boil; add basil, and submerge with a spoon.
Immediately drain in a colander. Rinse with cold water until cool, then pat basil completely dry in paper towels.
In a food processor, combine toasted nuts, basil, and garlic; season generously with salt and pepper. Process until nuts are finely chopped.
With food processor running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream through the feed tube; process until smooth.
Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula.
Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended.
Use immediately, or freeze.
To freeze, spoon pesto into an ice-cube tray and cover with plastic wrap. Freeze overnight, then transfer cubes to a resealable plastic bag; keep up to 6 months.
Defrost pesto cubes at room temperature, about 20 minutes (or at 30-second intervals in the microwave). Mash with a fork and add grated cheese before using in recipes. Serve with pasta, or over baked potatoes, or spread over toasted baguette slices.