I promised in last week’s double-boiler blog that I would have some recipes coming soon, and here’s the first! Classic basil pesto is one of my favorite sauces. It’s simple to make, packed full of fresh spring/summer flavors, and you can use it in so many ways! We put it over grilled veggies, grilled meats like chicken or steak, grilled or baked fish, into chicken rolls, mixed into dips, and, of course, as part of one of my favorites: caprese salad.
And believe me, homemade pesto is so much better than store-bought.
Pesto: A Recipe
This is the basic Italian-type of pesto you’ll find in most store and at many restaurants. I know I say it a lot, but pesto is very simple. You’ll need just a few ingredients:
- Fresh basil
- Pine nuts
- Parmesan cheese
- Olive oil
A few notes: first, make sure you use real Parmesan. It really, really makes a difference in flavor and texture. The powdered stuff you find in a can or the tubs of waxy stuff make pesto taste off to me. Also, try to find a good extra virgin olive oil. You’re eating the olive oil raw and you will be able to taste good olive oil and bad olive oil.
The only obstacle to making pesto you may have is that it does require either a food processor/high-powered blender or a mortar and pestle. You’ll have to grind everything together until it’s emulsified and it’s difficult to do that with just a knife or a regular blender.
- 2 C Fresh basil leaves
- ½ C Pine nuts
- 2-3 peeled garlic cloves
- ½ C grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- ½ C Olive oil
- Place the basil leaves, pine nuts, Parmesan, pine nuts, and salt and pepper into the bowl of a food processor.
- Pulse the food processor a few times until everything is combined.
- While the processor is running, drizzle in the olive oil. You may not use the entire two cups--keep drizzling until the pesto comes together and starts looking like a paste. If you want to add more olive oil, however, feel free! It's up to you.
- Serve and enjoy!
Riff on Your Pesto
Pesto is amazing in its versatility. I will be sharing a few of my favorite recipes for pesto this summer, but you can mix, switch out, and swap so many ingredients. For this type of pesto alone (there are many different types) you can substitute:
- Play with the ingredient ratios. The numbers I put above are suggestions
- Replace walnuts for pine nuts
- Replace Parmesan with another type of hard cheese like Grana Padano or Manchego
- Add sundried tomatoes or fresh spring peas (yes, seriously. It’s kind of amazing…)
Also, you can save your leftover pesto by freezing it in a ice cube tray. That way, it’s already in small portions and you won’t have to unfreeze an entire bag or chip out what you need–nice and neat!
So, that’s the classic basil pesto recipe–perfect to enjoy all summer and beyond.
‘Till next time!