Summer is coming to an end. For me, that’s okay only for the heat of the Central Valley. I am not one for the heat…and yet I live in a place where it gets to be 102 in the summer. Go figure. Our summers provide us with tons of fresh fruits, veggies and herbs. Farmer’s Markets are abundant in my area providing us with at least 4 markets in any given week.
One of the things I love to get is Basil. I love basil. It is so versatile from salads to jams (yep, I make jams with basil) and ice cream to pesto sauces. Okay, maybe not ice cream rather gelato. I am not lying! I was up in Placerville this weekend with my daughter and she had a strawberry basil gelato which was phenomenal.
I’ve tried growing basil but I haven’t gotten that down just yet but I’m working on it!
I thought I’d pass along my rendition of basil pesto that I nicked from Ina Garten. It doesn’t vary too much from hers except for one step – only because I love the taste of toasted nuts. Mmmmm….basil, toasted nuts, parmesan cheese and olive oil? Yes please!!
Now lets talk about the two ingredients that make or break a pesto sauce: Parmesan cheese and olive oil. Please, please, PLEASE take the time to research your olive oil and use a good quality one for your pesto. I would recommend perusing your local store’s variety of olive oils and read the labels. Go for one that is 100% olive and not diluted with other oils. It can get expensive, but it is worth it.
Parmesan Cheese. I’m not one for the ‘fake’ stuff – no grated filler “parmesan”. I am not trying to be a snob about it, it’s just a matter of taste. Parmesano Reggiano is the real stuff and you can tell. Trust me.
So you have an abundance of pesto from the garden, you’ve got the parmesan cheese and olive oil. There’s one more component needed…nuts. I use half walnut and half pine nuts. Pine nuts can get very expensive – about $15/lb. expensive. So it’s up to you if you want to use pine nuts, or substitute them with another nut or omit them all together. But you could….just this once….try it as the recipe states. You won’t be disappointed.
I’ve brought this pesto in at work and have given jars away just because. Each person has loved the pesto sauce and said it was one of the best they’ve ever had. It’s not just for pasta – you can smear a little on bread; broil some tomatoes with a little dollop of pesto; put some on pizza; use it in a sammie…the possibilities are endless!
Seriously, try it! You’ll be glad you did.
Eat Well ~
- ¼ cup walnuts
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 3 Tbs. chopped, fresh garlic (about 9 cloves)
- 5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
- 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup good quality, 100% olive oil
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
- In a medium dry skillet heat walnuts and pine nuts over medium heat and toast. Don't walk away from the stove because the nuts won't take long to toast. Shake the pan every few minutes to toss them. Once you see them turning a golden brown, it goes quickly from toasted to burnt. This should take about 8 - 10 minutes, if that.
- Place the nuts and garlic in a food processor and whir for 15 seconds.
- Add basil leaves and pepper and whir. While processor is still running, slowly add olive oil until pesto is thoroughly pureed.
- Add parmesan and whir for another minute.
- Put into jars with a thin layer of oil on top and refrigerate.