Homemade Basil Pesto

21 Sep

We had a brutal summer, and much of my garden was a little stunted because of it.  But with the cooler weather we’ve had of late, some plants have really taken off – including my basil!  It’s gorgeous, glossy, green, and today I sheared off a good portion of its healthy shoots so I could make Homemade Basil Pesto.

This is a Barefoot Contessa recipe.  Earlier this summer, my mom and I made a batch using basil from her garden, which, either because of my mom’s green thumb or her concentrated watering efforts, flourished despite the heat and dryness.  We found it almost bit garlicky for our taste, so for today’s batch, I reduced the garlic cloves from 9 to 7 (and didn’t even measure to see if that was less than the suggested three heaping tablespoons… oops).

It’s easy and scrumptious (yep, licked my fingers a time or two), and oh-so-versatile…

Use it on pasta, on toasted French bread, drizzled over caprese salad, or on this Tomato Pesto Tart (an easy way to impress and delight your friends).  I made the tart using puff pastry instead of a pie crust, and oh, each bite just exploded on your tongue and then melted.  I could have eaten the whole thing if we weren’t in such a crowd and I wasn’t trying to eat socially, i.e., lightly.

pile of basil

Homemade Basil Pesto
(for me, made 3 jelly jars plus a couple tablespoons extra)

1/4 c. chopped walnuts
1/4 c. pine nuts
5 c. basil leaves, packed
7-9 garlic cloves, chopped (2.5 – 3 heaping Tablespoons)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 c. good-quality olive oil (Ina always calls for “good-quality” and I always use my generic-brand.  Oh, the day that I stock my pantry with pricey, delectable olive oil!  Like the kind I read about in Peter Mayle’s “A Year in Provence,” preferably.)
1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Put the walnuts, pine nuts and garlic cloves in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel chopping blade.  Process until smooth.  Add basil, salt and pepper; put on top.  While processor is running, slowly pour olive oil through chute.  Mixture will look a little soupy.  It’s ok, don’t panic.  Add the Parmesan and pulse a few times so it’s fully incorporated, using a spatula to scrape down the sides of your bowl as needed.

Done!  Use immediately or, if refrigerating or freezing, pour into your storage container, top with a thin layer of olive oil (or plastic wrap pressed firmly against it, if you’re averse to using more oil), and seal tightly.

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