Pass the Pesto: Use That Basil!
We planted mega basil plants this year, as discussed in my Spring into Gardening article, and wow are we reaping the benefits! I harvested three cups of large delicious basil leaves on Friday, and planned on making pesto sauce for our Pizza Fridays tradition. Of course the day eluded my attempts to make the dough in time so instead we had pasta with pesto sauce. Little Sweet Pea enjoyed the pasta (sans pesto) while AA and I stuffed ourselves with pesto. Here’s a variation on the theme of an Alice Water’s recipe that’s simple, easy, and delish. (If you aren’t familiar with Alice Waters, my cuisine hero!!!!, get familiar here.)
Basil leaves, as fresh as possible. We tripled the batch, but you really only need a cupful (pre-cutting or washing).
Pine nuts, or brazil nuts, or a nut that’s oily. 1/4 cup of these in their whole form.
Parmesan cheese. Save your tastebuds and don’t get the pre-grated as it’s just so much better if you grate it yourself just before use. 1/4 cup grated.
Garlic clove. The real deal is best, and not the Spice World pre-diced stuff in a jar, or dried/jarred garlic in any form. 1 clove.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Use the best stuff you can as it really makes a difference on the flavor. About a cup.
Salt. A pinch. We use kosher salt or sea salt most often when cooking (flavor!).
Just five ingredients and a pinch of salt and you’re all set.
a. Pounder: You will need something to pound everything to a paste with. I highly recommend a mortar & pestle. Otherwise you could use the end of a large cooking utensil that had a bulbous shape to emulate a pestle and just a bowl that can get banged up.
b. Heater: You will also need a toaster oven or conventional oven with a cookie sheet.
c. Tools: You’ll need a cheese grater, spatula, spoon, and measuring cups.
a. Garlic: Peel garlic clove and gently mash up with a knife. Place it into the mortar with a pinch of salt (helps break down the garlic and release its deliciousity).
Now pound away with pestle until it’s a beaten pulp.
c. Cheese. So you’ve grated it, now you add it to the pine nut mixture in the mortar. If you’re running out of room, move to a bigger bowl but still use the pestle. It really works to get them emulsified together, which is key to taste.
d. Basil. At this point, remove everything from the mortar and put it into a separate bowl so as to make room for your basil. You will need to mash that up for a few minutes before adding it all together. Ensure your basil has been washed, dried (just not super wet), and coarsely chopped.
Everything comes together now.
e. Olive Oil. I add about a cup for the recipe as described above, but really just keep added and mixing until it looks and tastes right to you.
f. Pasta. We try to only eat whole wheat pasta. Who wants wheat stripped of its nutrients and then enriched? Yeech. So fusilli was the choice with pesto for this time around.