Perfect Basil Pesto

By April 27, 2015

Pesto is Pesto is Pesto, right? Not so, my friends. There are hundreds of varieties of pestos out there-- and some delicious ones at that, made with all varieties of greens such as arugula, carrot tops, ramps and parsley. But the most common, and maybe most delicious variety of pesto is made with fresh basil. Here is a version that we use on pasta, in salad dressings, as a pizza topping or in veggie sandwiches. If you're not using it right away, place some plastic wrap right on the top layer, and keep in the fridge for 3-5 days. It also freezes well.

 1 Bunch basil, leaves washed stems discarded (appx 2 cups tightly packed)
 1/4 cup pine nuts
 3 Cloves garlic still in their paper wrapper
 Juice from one whole lemon
 1 cup finely grated cheese, such as parmesan, pecorino or asiago (if making vegan, omit cheese and taste to adjust salt at the end)
 2 to 3 tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
 1/2 cup nice tasting olive oil or combination of sunflower & olive, have more on hand
1

Have a little salt on hand to adjust seasoning--will depend on your tastes and if you're using cheese

The secret to this recipe is in the first "prep" steps-- all we're doing is trying to heighten the flavors of all the individual ingredients so when they come together, they shine.

First, toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet for a few minutes, 5 tops. Shake the pan every 30 seconds or so to make sure they get evenly toasty, but not burned. They have a high oil content, so they'll fry easily. Once toasted--smelling great and light golden color--set aside.

2

In the same dry skillet, toast the garlic cloves over medium-high heat, still in their paper wrappers. This takes away a little bit of the sharpness and imparts some of that sweetness garlic develops when roasted. When the cloves begin to soften a bit, after 8 minutes or so, remove from heat and from paper wrapper. Coarsely chop.

3

Last prep step: bruise the basil leaves. Either crunch them (gently) in your hands, or put in a plastic bag and roll with a rolling pin. The bruising allows the aroma to come through.

4

Now place everything except the oil--the cheese, nuts, basil, parsley & garlic-- in a food processor or Vitamix. Turn it on, and slowly begin to pour in the oil, stopping every once in a while to scrape down the sides. Once it's reached your desired consistency, taste it to adjust the saltiness. If it's too salty, add more lemon juice.

Ingredients

 1 Bunch basil, leaves washed stems discarded (appx 2 cups tightly packed)
 1/4 cup pine nuts
 3 Cloves garlic still in their paper wrapper
 Juice from one whole lemon
 1 cup finely grated cheese, such as parmesan, pecorino or asiago (if making vegan, omit cheese and taste to adjust salt at the end)
 2 to 3 tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
 1/2 cup nice tasting olive oil or combination of sunflower & olive, have more on hand

Directions

1

Have a little salt on hand to adjust seasoning--will depend on your tastes and if you're using cheese

The secret to this recipe is in the first "prep" steps-- all we're doing is trying to heighten the flavors of all the individual ingredients so when they come together, they shine.

First, toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet for a few minutes, 5 tops. Shake the pan every 30 seconds or so to make sure they get evenly toasty, but not burned. They have a high oil content, so they'll fry easily. Once toasted--smelling great and light golden color--set aside.

2

In the same dry skillet, toast the garlic cloves over medium-high heat, still in their paper wrappers. This takes away a little bit of the sharpness and imparts some of that sweetness garlic develops when roasted. When the cloves begin to soften a bit, after 8 minutes or so, remove from heat and from paper wrapper. Coarsely chop.

3

Last prep step: bruise the basil leaves. Either crunch them (gently) in your hands, or put in a plastic bag and roll with a rolling pin. The bruising allows the aroma to come through.

4

Now place everything except the oil--the cheese, nuts, basil, parsley & garlic-- in a food processor or Vitamix. Turn it on, and slowly begin to pour in the oil, stopping every once in a while to scrape down the sides. Once it's reached your desired consistency, taste it to adjust the saltiness. If it's too salty, add more lemon juice.

Perfect Basil Pesto

2 Comments

  • Lee Ann Eyre says:

    Iā€™m guessing you mean 2-3 tbsp of flat leaf parsley, and not 23 tbsp ? Just checking šŸ˜‹

    • Fresh Forker says:

      Hi Lee Ann! Thanks for the catch. When this recipe app updated, it took out all those helpful hyphens. I’ll get it changed!

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