I love the green, green smell and taste of basil. No other herb has the same depth of fragrance and flavor. Right now, this time of year, it is at its basil-ist finest! There is so much around, they’re practically giving it away.
Let’s face it. You can only use so many of those tasty green leaves in any recipe. Before you let it rot and toss it away, now is the perfect time to ensure that you DO have that summer taste all year long.
Every year at basil harvest time, I make a huge vat of pesto and simply freeze it. Any time I want some fresh basil taste, I take the container out of the freezer, let it melt a bit and just chunk off the exact amount that I need. No, I’m not one of those people who use ice-cube trays to make sure to have the perfect cooking portion. Though go ahead, if you’re inspired. I’m just lazy.
While I did once watch my friend Tina whack away at some basil with an Italian tool called a double mezzaluna, (that quite frankly looks like an instrument of torture), for your own safety–and the safety of others–I strongly recommend a food processor.
- 2 cups tightly packed basil leaves—no stems!
- ½ Cup Parmesan cheese
- ½ Cup olive oil
- 1/3 Cup pine nuts or you can use walnuts instead
- 3 garlic cloves
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Here is where the food processor comes in mighty handy. First, I toss in the garlic cloves and wait until they’re minced.
- Toss in the chunks of Parmesan cheese until they shredded.
- Finally, I add the pine nuts. When everything looks good and chopped, I usually open the food processor and make sure there are no large chunks and I mix it up a bit with a spatula.
- With the food processor running, I add the basil leaves a handful at a time. If the leaves start to get stuck, I add a little of the oil and keep going until all of the leaves are mixed in.
- Again, I open the food processor and mix things up with the spatula. I usually add some salt and pepper about now, too.
- With the processor closed and running again, slowly add the rest of the oil. Once all of the oil is added, let the food processor go for another 15-30 seconds. It should be done!
You can use pesto on pasta, to marinate chicken, on top or fish, plop it into soups or stews or my favorite ratatouille, use it as a spread instead of mayonnaise or mustard on a sandwich. Come up with new uses and share them with me!
Tip: I usually double this recipe when I make it, just to be sure it really does last me until next year.