Fresh Basil Pesto

Summertime—time to make fresh basil pesto!  I bought a nice big bag of fresh basil at the farmer’s market, and set out to make as many batches of pesto with it as I could.  Every summer I make quantities of basil pesto using a food processor and freeze it to use throughout the year.  I have been tweaking the ratios of ingredients, and the recipe below gives a pesto with a good fresh taste without being quite as rich as some of the versions that I have made in the past.

Pasta with pesto is a great week-night meal.  Even if you don’t have batches of pesto that you have already prepared, if you have a couple of cups of basil leaves you can make the pesto in minutes– less time than it takes to bring the water to a boil for cooking the pasta.

Fresh basil pesto is also a nice sauce for vegetables.  I particularly like it on cooked baby potatoes, but yesterday I spooned some fresh pesto over sliced raw zucchini, and that made a tasty side dish. When using the pesto on vegetables, I usually add a little squeeze of lemon juice to brighten the flavor, and a few grinds of black pepper.

I prefer to toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet before starting to make the pesto, just until the pine nuts become aromatic with a touch of golden color.  Let the toasted pine nuts cool before adding to the other ingredients so that you don’t heat up the basil.  If you want to make a quick pesto, skip the step of toasting the pine nuts.

Fresh Basil Pesto

2 garlic cloves
2 cups packed basil leaves
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano  cheese
¼ teaspoon salt
½- 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Finely chop the garlic in the food processor.  Add the basil, pine nuts, cheese and salt, and process until everything is finely chopped.  With the motor running, add the oil, blending to combine.  The pesto should not be completely smooth.

You can scale this recipe up or down depending on how much basil you have.  Basil pesto can be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for months.  Drizzle a little olive oil over the top before refrigerating or freezing.

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