Sunday, May 17, 2009

Basil Pesto

My basil plants have really taken off and wanted to pick the leaves so they would keep on producin'! Next, what do I do with basil??? I use it now and again when I'm cooking, I may throw it in a tossed salad, I've even frozen the leaves before. So, I went to my trusty friend Google to see what else I could do and alas, BASIL PESTO! Here's the recipe:

2 cups fresh packed basil leaves (packed means, stuff them into a measure cup and press them down with your hand; it's not a precise measurement)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts (if you don't have pine nuts, you can use walnuts or hazelnuts)
3 garlic cloves, finely minced (or 1 tablespoon of prepared minced garlic)
1 tablespoon "fruit fresh" or 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Fruit fresh is available at most grocery stores where canning supplied like pectin and pickling salt are sold. It is basically a form of citric acid / vitamin C, that helps prevent the pesto from turning brown upon exposure to the air.
1/4 cup Olive oil. It should be the "extra virgin" variety, not the ordinary cooking olive oil. If it is extra virgin, it will say that on the label: see the photo for an example of extra virgin (at left) next to cooking olive oil (at right).
Makes about 1 cup or prepared basil Pesto!

Step 1 - Pick the leaves off of the stems.
Discard any flower buds, stems or leaves that aren't in good shape. All we want are leaves; small, medium or large; as long as they are a healthy green, not brown or molding!

Step 2 - Wash the basil.
Just wash them in a large bowl under cold water, no soap!

Step 3 - Chop the pine nuts, olive oil and garlic in the food processor
If you don't have a food processor, you can use a blender, and possibly a chopper. It would be fairly tedious to do this by hand, but I'm sure it can be done that way, too.

Step 4 - Add the basil leaves and olive oil and chop
Now start stuffing basil leaves (in small batches) into the food processor and chop them into the garlic, olive oil and pine nuts.
Chop the mix until it forms a thick, smooth paste.

Step 5 - Blend in the grated Parmesan cheese
Did I mention you need to grate the Parmesan cheese first? Then just add it to the food processor and blend! NOTE: if you intend to freeze the pesto, leave the cheese OUT and add it when you thaw and use the pesto. Cheese doesn't freeze well.

And that is it! You're done!

Secret Tip:
Adding 1 teaspoon of sugar or Splenda to the batch really seems to bring the flavor alive. Try it and see!

The pesto will keep in refrigerator for about a week, or you can freeze it and it will last for 3 to 6 months.

Most people serve it over pasta or use it to season fish and chicken dishes.

Not really a pesto connoissuer. Do you have any suggestions of what to do with my pesto????

1 comment:

  1. Pesto is great on bread - especially with a little extra olive oil for dipping!

    You've been neglecting your blog. Just ran across it and thought I'd harass you a little bit.