Basil is one of the staples of our garden. Each spring, I plant as much as my wife will let me get away with.
To me, pesto embodies the aromas of summer and the simple pleasures of eating. This classic dish from Italy’s Ligurian coast tastes so good, and is sooo easy to prepare. We never tire of it.
Not only is it a wonderful first course, a bowl of pesto and pasta can be augmented with innumerable combinations of vegetables and meat to make a one-dish meal.
The most difficult thing about preparing pesto is tearing the leaves from the stem of the basil plant. This recipe suffices for six servings, about 1 – 1.5 lb of pasta.
- 2 packed cups of basil leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2-3 tbs toasted pine nuts
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tbs grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup olive oil, more or less to taste
- 1 lb pasta
- 1 tbs water from the pot in which the pasta cooks
Remove the basil leaves from the plant and wash them. Toast the pine nuts. Peel and crush the garlic.
Place the basil in a food processor. Add salt, pine nuts and garlic. Add 1/4 cup of the olive oil and run the food processor. Add the remaining olive oil, a little at a time, running the food processor, until you achieve the consistency you desire.
Transfer the basil mixture from the food processor to a bowl. Beat the cheese in and add a tablespoon of water from the pasta pot. Add additional olive oil if you like.
While there’s no substitute for pesto straight from the garden, it keeps very well in the freezer. And when you come home from work at 7 PM on a weeknight, it makes a quick meal. Prepare the basil, olive oil, salt, garlic and pine nuts in the food processor as above. Put it in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat, defrost it and add cheese. Buon apetito!