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Friday, June 26, 2009

Eat the Season Friday - Basil Pesto

Today we were able to make our first batch of pesto. Pesto is one of the many gifts of summer - you can add it to pastas, sandwiches, chicken or fish for a perfect summer meal. Or you can do like we do around here and eat it with a spoon. We are admitted pesto addicts in our home and one of my favorite snacks is toasted whole wheat bread spread with a generous helping of pesto. And while we might all agree pesto tastes delicious - good pesto from the store is not only hard to find but it can be pretty spendy. Even if you try and make it on your own using basil leaves from the store it will be expensive. The best way to enjoy it is by growing your own basil - making this pesto cost only a couple dollars at most.

First let's talk about cutting the Basil. There is a right way and a wrong way. If you cut it the wrong way you will stunt it's growth and cause it to begin to flower. The trick to cutting it correctly is to cut about a third of the way down the stem right where some leaves are forming. In this image I had just cut the basil plant and you can see the new growth. If you cut the basil correctly you will actually encourage it's growth and you'll be able to harvest more and for a lot longer!

There are many recipes for pesto and they all have different variations - this one happens to be my favorite basic pesto:

2 1/2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 or 3 large cloves of garlic, peeled
2/3 cup good quality olive oil
1/4 cup walnuts or pine nuts(I used walnuts)
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

The first step is to wash the basil - the best method is to fill a bowl will cold water and immerse the basil giving it a few good swishes. Then combine all of the ingredients except the cheese in a food processor andpulse until it is well blended and becomes a sauce- about 10-20 seconds.

Scrape the mixture into a medium bowl with a rubber spatula and fold in the cheese. And viola - you've got pesto! Store it in the fridge in an air-tight container. If you don't plan on eating it within 3 or 4 days then throw it in the freezer where it will last for up to six months.

What's in season? basil & garlic


mike said...

We need to add your pesto to Marisa's homemade pasta or gnocchi and we will be in business.

Dale Johnson said...


Thank you for this article. I was just wondering how to make pesto out of my basil.


AJK said...

mmmmm pesto!

m. said...

i didn't know you could use walnuts!

megan said...

Megh - you can use walnuts! It's way cheaper and I actually like it a bit more.

Regi said...

I love pesto. Tonight will be the second time I make some this season.