Summer is pretty grand.
I mean, it’s technically not summer, but it’s June, and it’s hot, and the thunderstorms are FINALLY back, at least for the past two days. So, essentially, it’s summer again.
So summer is pretty grand, because there is so much produce available and growing. And one of the things that’s growing prolifically in our garden is basil. Yay! And what do you do with extra basil? Pesto it up!
The really cool thing about pesto is that you can use so many different things to actually make pesto. If you don’t have basil, but have garlic mustard, or scapes, or arugula, or any strong-tasting green, you can use that in place of basil. If you don’t have pine nuts (or don’t want to shell out the ridiculous amount of money it costs to buy them here in the States), you can use just about any other nut. I’m a fan of walnuts, followed by pecans, as a pine nut replacement.
But tonight, for once in my life, we actually had all of the things on hand to make traditional basil pesto. Even pine nuts, which were actually left over from a cookie recipe I made back during the Christmas season. Woohoo!
Anyway, I’m going to give you the proportions here for “regular” pesto, but like I said before, you can use just about anything in the same amounts with a similar flavor profile. (Sometimes, I even prefer a nice bitter mustard green pesto over basil. It’s all about the mood.)
You will need:
- 2 c basil or other strong greens/herbs (leaves only – you can use the stems to infuse oil!)
- 2 tbsp pine nuts, walnuts, pecans, or other nuts
- 1/2 c olive oil
- 1/2 c shredded parmesan cheese
- Place basil, pine nuts, and parmesan in the bowl of a food processor with the blade attachment. Process until a smooth, homogenous paste forms, about 30 seconds to 1 minute, depending on the strength of your food processor. (Mine grinds like a powersaw, so it gets the job done in 30 seconds AND makes me go deaf for about 10 minutes!)
- With the processor running on low, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the basil mixture until homogenous and smooth.
- Voila – you have pesto!
Seriously, it’s stupid easy. You can use it as a pizza sauce, pasta sauce (a few tablespoons go a long way!), panini condiment, even as an ice cream topping, if you’re into that. (I’m not, but whatever floats your boat.) In my experience, it keeps a few weeks at most in the fridge, if you can even make it last that long.
We used some of it tonight to make some tasty veggie pasta with smoked tofu. Mmmm.