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Summer’s bounty is upon us, and it seems a terrible time to start a blog, but it’s also the perfect time! There is produce in every corner of the yard, farmer’s market and refrigerator and it’s either got to be eaten up, preserved, or tossed in the compost bin. So, let’s get started with pesto!
Basil is my favorite herb. When I was beheading my plants (hey, they’ve got to be convinced to keep growing) I ended up grabbing this gorgeous handful into a bouquet and then snapping this shot. As I did so, I thought to myself that it made a perfect little decorative bouquet for someone like me! The garden is, hands-down, my favorite place to spend time and nothing beats a delightful, fragrant handful of basil! It can spice up tomato sauces, sandwiches, soups, eggs, salads, pizzas, meats, and even lunchboxes!
Pesto is the best way to preserve that fresh basil flavor for the long winter. I always make pesto in huge batches when I have basil and then freeze it into “hockey pucks” in my silicone muffin pans. Just fill the muffin cups (even partially full, if you’d like smaller portions), lay them on a tray and freeze. After the pesto is frozen, simply pop them out into a storage container or zip top bag and store in the freezer until ready to use. Pest will defrost at room temperature in about 20 minutes.
1 cup fresh basil leaves
4 cloves garlic
½ to 1 cup good quality, yummy tasting olive oil (Spectrum or B.R. Cohn are my favorites)
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese (or use more Parmesan)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste-about 1 tsp each pepper and Kosher salt
Optional 1/2 – 1 cup toasted nuts (pine nuts, pecans, almonds)
Combine basil, garlic, nuts, cheese, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and roughly chop. Add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream with the motor running.
Don’t add too much oil. When the motor is stopped, the oil shouldn’t puddle. A good way to check is to turn off the food processor, let it sit for a minute and then check it. If there is a little olive oil that is separating out from the mix, then it’s probably enough. If it still seems really thick, add a little more oil.
Be careful not to leave the food processor on for too long, or it will turn your pesto into more of a peanut butter texture. It shouldn’t be that smooth. You should still see small chunks of nuts and/or cheese when it’s all done.
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