My herb garden didn’t do very well, this year, unfortunately, due to a tried and true combination of procrastination, unfavourable weather, and sheer neglect. Happily, though, big bags of basil were on sale at the grocery store this week so I was still able to make a nice batch of pesto!
I don’t know if you’ve herb, but oil admit that I’m a pretty big pesto fan. In fact, it may be a bit cheesy, but I’m nut afraid to admit that when I run out, I pine for it. Store-bought, I’m afraid, leafs me a bit cold, and I can’t enjoy it with the same relish. (Was ‘relish’ too much of a stretch? It is a green condiment…)
Anyhoo…homemade pesto is super, super, super, amazingly simple, but the flip-side of that simplicity is the better your ingredients, the better the end result. That means no powdered Kraft “Parmesan” cheese product- you want the real thing and you want to grate it yourself – and your very best extra virgin olive oil. I used Acropolis Organics Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which I happened to sample in the grocery store a little while back and was totally sold on – I don’t often wax poetic about olive oil, but this one is really, really good, and I was surprised at how reasonably it was priced. It is an oil in which to dip your focaccia bread or to drizzle over your salad – Never, EVER heat it on the stove, unless you want to make me cry…
2 cups tightly packed basil leaves and stems (unless they’re really woody)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
Toast the pine nuts lightly in a saucepan until they start to turn golden brown and smell good, then cool.
Put everything else in a food processor and process until smooth.
Add pine nuts and process until chopped and combined (I like to leave it a little crunchy).
Transfer to a freezer-safe container and press plastic wrap tightly onto the surface to keep it from discolouring, then freeze!
Whenever you want to use it, dig some frozen pesto out with a fork and toss it into or spread it onto whatever you’re making (thaw it on the counter or for 10-20 sec in the microwave if you need to). Great on pizza or pasta, in omelettes (with some cheese and tomato), stuffed into a chicken breast (which is then wrapped in ham and baked in the oven), or, you know, just eat it with a spoon.
I’ll let you know how the kids like it!