Without any reason that makes a lick of sense, there have always been a few foods that intimidate me when I think of making them from scratch all by myself. I’m not so sure why, but homemade pesto was on that list!
But I found myself with an overabundance of basil on my Tower Garden, and couldn’t possibly find a way to use it all unless I made pesto. (This was one of TWO basil plants on my garden!!)
After the first run, I’m beyond hooked!!! This small handful of ingredients produces an amazing flavor combination…but it was the SIMPLICITY of the recipe that calmed my unfounded culinary fears. How could anything that looks and tastes that sophisticated be so easy to make?!!! And to top it off, this recipe freezes beautifully, making it the perfect way to use up your summer herb garden and enjoy pesto throughout the winter. Basil pesto recipes typically use pine nuts for a little texture and crunch, but pine nuts have gotten a bad rap lately. It turns out that there is a mysterious malady called ‘Pine Nut Syndrome’…an actual condition where a person experiences a pungent metallic taste anywhere from 1-3 days after eating pine nuts. It doesn’t matter whether they ate a few pine nuts or a whole handful, whether they were roasted or raw or whether they had eaten them before without any issues. This funky little phenomenon can last a few days to a couple of weeks and throw your taste buds into a tizzy!!! Between that little tidbit of information and the fact that I had a freezer full of shelled walnuts, I made some changes to the common pesto recipe. Hope you enjoy it as much as my whole family does–we actually fought over the last bowl of pesto in my freezer!!
Three of my favorite ways to use pesto are: as a spread with homemade olive oil/garlic crostini, as a topping on soups or tossed with quinoa pasta (Penne Pasta with Pesto and Veggies) Here are two of them pictured:
|Basil-Walnut Pesto|| |
- • 2 cups fresh basil leaves (gently washed and dried)
- • 2 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- • ⅓ cup walnuts
- • ½ teaspoon sea salt
- • ¼ teaspoon pepper (I prefer black)
- • ⅔ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
- • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (see instructions to know when to add this!!!)*
- Place garlic and walnuts into a food processor bowl. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the basil leaves, salt and pepper and process about 1 minute until it resembles a paste. With food processor running on low setting, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube and blend thoroughly. *If you plan to use the pesto within the next few days, add the Parmesan cheese now and blend another minute. (Pesto will keep in a tightly-sealed container for about 1 week in the refrigerator. To prevent it from oxidizing and turning brown, drizzle a small layer of olive oil on top and place plastic wrap flat down on top of the olive oil. Cover with a tight lid. Remove plastic wrap and stir when ready to use. If freezing, omit the Parmesan cheese and stir it in after you defrost the pesto.