I’ve written entries that involve pesto before, but I don’t think I’ve ever done one JUST for pesto. But I just made a fresh batch and thought it was blog-worthy all by its lonesome.
Maybe you’ve bought pesto at the store. If you have you know it can be a little on the spendy side, and sometimes it’s not that wonderful either. Much more economical to make it yourself, and you can’t beat the taste.
Welcome to my basil patch. I’m normally a pretty lousy gardner, but halfway through summer these are looking pretty great, huh? Although I kill many plants, I usually do well with basil. Here I have purple basil, Thai basil, and sweet Italian basil (probably your most common variety).
My basil patch. Pay no attention to the accompanying weed patch.
I bought my basil plants for $2.50 each at farmer’s market, but you can find them all over the place this time of year. If you keep pinching the little flowers off the tops, they will keep growing for most of the summer, especially if you harvest fairly frequently. I’m about ready to chop another bunch off of these.
I keep the other ingredients for pesto on hand most of the time, so whipping up a batch is super fast, which is good because I love this stuff. Sandwich spread, pizza topping, tossed with pasta, spread over fish or chicken, mixed into salad dressing, beaten into scrambled eggs…it’s delicious just about any way you can think to eat it.
2 cups fresh basil leaves (remove any large stems)
2-3 tbsp. walnuts
2-3 tbsp. pine nuts
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan
3 cloves garlic
Salt & pepper
Olive oil (around 1/2 cup)
Put all ingredients except oil into a food processor.
All ready to whirl up.
Pulse until ingredients are finely chopped, scraping down the sides once or twice to make sure everything is incorporated. (Pulsing instead of puréeing is better since it doesn’t mangle the basil as much, which will result in brighter pesto color!) Drizzle olive oil in a little at a time until the mixture is the consistency you like. I prefer it to be spreadable, but not soupy. Taste for seasoning, add salt & pepper if needed.
Be sure to add the oil slowly so it can incorporate as it blends. That way you can really control the thickness.
Store in an airtight container with a lid. After putting the pesto in the container, drizzle with a layer of olive oil or cover with plastic wrap (set right on top of the pesto). This will help keep it from turning brown. It will keep in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. It also freezes well. I usually store mine in smallish containers so I can have one in the fridge and the rest in the freezer to dole out as needed.