I dislike pesto in general–too often, it drips with olive oil and tastes overwhelmingly like garlic. Now, I love garlic, but not when I’m supposed to be eating a pesto that should taste more like basil and pine nuts. These two sensations turn me off to pesto. Plus, storebought pesto often contains basil that is just…flavorless. Ick.
But homemade pesto? The kind that allows basil to take center stage, the kind that is edged with the savory undertone of roasted pine nuts? I LOVE it. The only caveat–this is such a simple food that you want to use high quality ingredients. That means, the freshest basil you can find, and the best olive oil you can find.
It’s not often that I indulge in making homemade pesto–delicate fresh basil is not a staple in my fridge…but this year, I’m lucky enough to have a good crop of basil in my vegetable garden! I’ve watched my basil plants grow, with homemade pesto securely in mind. And this week, they grew to a requisite height, with the requisite amount of bunches.
Now there is nothing that spells summer so much as fresh, homemade pesto tossed with pasta (preferably a very ridged or ruffled shape like campanelle that can hold the pesto in its nooks and crannies). To top it all off, there’s minimal cooking involved (you only boil the pasta), helping the cook to avoid slaving over a hot stove or oven for hours on a hot summer day.
So why not indulge?
Recipe follows after the jump…
Makes about 1 cup.
4 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup (or less, if you prefer) olive oil
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts (plus extra for garnish)
1-2 garlic cloves (1 if it’s a large clove…2 if they’re small cloves)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 dash of coarse kosher salt
optional: 1 tsp lemon zest
Combine first 4 ingredients in food processor (or blender). Blend until paste forms, stopping often to push down basil (about 20 seconds). Transfer to small bowl. Add both cheeses and salt; stir until blended. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Top with 1/2 inch olive oil and chill.). Of course, this tastes best FRESH! Enjoy!