July 31st, 2008
Basil has been a culinary herb in Europe and Central Asia since before the written word. It’s easy to grow here in San Diego as basil thrives in hot sunny weather. The smell of basil gets me very excited as it is yet another reminder of summer. And as my basil plants begin to take over the patio I know its time to make pesto. Since my parsley plant was doing much of the same I decided to toss that in as well. Besides, parsley gives the pesto a much more vibrant color; but be careful, if you add too much it can turn bitter.
Traditionally, pesto is prepared with a mortar and pestle. The basil leaves are thrown in the mortar with garlic and some salt and crushed to a creamy consistency, adding the pine nuts at the end for a light crush. But who’s got time for that when you can simply add it all to your blender or food processor! And if you're like me, I prefer to make a large batch and freeze some for later.
Basil Parsley Pesto Recipe
¼ cup pine nuts
3 garlic cloves
2 cups fresh basil, packed
1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley leaves, packed
Extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
- Toast the pine nuts in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Pine nuts burn easily so don’t walk away, shake periodically and toast until fragrant. This should not take more than a minute or two. Remove from pine nuts and set aside. Add garlic to skillet and toast (with skin on) for 5 minuets or so, until the skin starts to turn light brown.
- Peel garlic, add all ingredients minus the olive oil to the food processor. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, while hitting the pulse button until the pesto reaches desired consistency. I used about ¾ cup of oil this particular day.
How do I like my pesto? Well, I am glad you asked. Around here, we practically use pesto for everything. Toss it with some fettuccini, or even pesto pasta salad, top off a bowl of steamed mussels, add crème fraîche to the pesto and you have a nice creamy pesto sauce for gnocchi, melted cheese pesto dip, pesto stuffed hamburgers, topping for pizza...the possibilities are endless.
If you have leftovers, pesto stores very well in the refridgerator for up to 5 days or so. If you want to freeze it, simply cover the surface of the pesto with a sheet of plastic wrap, then tightly lid the container. This will prevent the pesto from being exposed to air - it should keep for at least 3 months (if you can resist from eating it that is).
Don't forget to share your favorite pesto dish in the comment box below.