Thursday, July 05, 2012

Basil Pesto

Summer is about fresh.  Tomatoes.  Squash.  Peaches.  All prepared with a minimum of fuss and very little heat.  So while the rest of our yard withers, I take advantage of the big bushy basil plants and whip up a batch of this delicious pesto.  With a tomato and a hunk of mozzarella, dinner is served.

Basil Pesto
Makes 1 1/2 cups

2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/2 cup pine nuts (or walnuts or even pecans)
Generous pinch of kosher salt
2 cups fresh basil leaves, tightly packed
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan (optional)

Prepare a saucepan of boiling water and an ice water bath.  Working in batches, blanch the basil leaves for 15 seconds and immediately plunge into the ice water.  Let cool, then drain thoroughly and pat dry to remove as much extra water as possible.

With the motor running, drop the garlic cloves into a food processor to mince.

Turn the processor off and add the walnuts and salt; pulse to coarsely chop the nuts.  Add the basil and process until finely chopped. 

With the machine running, drizzle the olive oil through the feed tube until pesto forms a puree.

If desired, add the Parmesan and process until pureed and incorporated fully.

(It's easy to freeze this in an ice cube tray and then dole out as necessary.  The blanching should keep the pesto a bright green.)

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