(This is what I make every year when our garden basil is at its peak. The recipe was on the back of a store-bought package of fresh basil, so there’s nothing secret about it. You can freeze the finished product in plastic or glass containers. You can also substitute walnuts for the pine nuts, but I’ve not tried that.)
Classic Basil Pesto
2 cups fresh basil leaves, washed
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp freshly grated Romano cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
Combine the basil, garlic, cheeses and nuts in a food processor or blender. Process to mix. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper and process to the desired consistency. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Yields about 1 cup. To store, pour a thin layer of olive oil over the surface of the pesto and store in an air-tight container for a week or so. It also may be frozen for up to 5 months.
Poor man’s pesto variation (or what to do if fresh basil is unavailable): Substitute 2 cups of fresh spinach leaves and 2 teaspoons crumbled dried basil for the fresh basil.
Part of one crop of basil processed into pesto.
Wondering how to use pesto? Because it contains cheese, it’s best not to add to any recipe until the end. It can stick to your pan or grill. Here’s a few things we’ve tried:
- spread it on grilled fish or chicken – after cooking
- add it to stir-fried veggies
- plop a spoonful inside a baked potato or over the top of roasted potatoes
- use it inside wraps or sandwiches instead of mayo
- add it to deviled egg filling
- spread it over cream cheese and top with sun-dried tomatoes for a dip
- slather over a pizza crust instead of red or white sauce
- add to your marinara for pasta or pizza recipes
- spread over fresh sliced tomatoes & drizzle with balsamic glaze