I ate the most delicious dinner last night. And I’m sorry to do this to you, but you’re going to have to wait for the recipe. Because before you can make it, you must master the art of pesto. It is the easiest sauce to make. Pesto is perfect for summer because at this point in the year, basil is taking over your garden (or your supermarket), and you do not have to heat a single pan to make it (okay, one). This is my tried and true recipe, but you’ll need to experiment to find what works for you.
Pesto is another one of those dishes that has so few ingredients, quality really matters. Real parmesan, fresh garlic, and extra virgin olive oil will make a big impact.
- 2 C of basil
- 2 cloves of garlic
- ¼ C pine nuts (pignolis)
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
- ½ C parmesan
- zest of ½ a lemon
This recipe has a lot of ½ C of this, ½ tsp of that. I think SJP said it best when she said, “Sometimes a girl just needs a half.”
Put your pine nuts in a skillet (I like using non-stick here) and set your burner on a medium flame. Medium-low if you have one of those scary-industrial ovens. I am totally jealous if you do. I bet your kitchen is really nice.
Let them hang out for just a minute before you start shaking the pan, pretending like you are a rock-star chef. Put them back on the flame, then toss them again when you feel like it. Do this for just a few minutes until the pine nuts start turning brown, and releasing a yummy scent. Turn off the burner. Pat yourself on the back.
Put the basil leaves, garlic cloves (yep, whole!), salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. I like my little food processor for this. It’s easier to clean. Pulse a couple of times to loosen everything up. Then, add the pine nuts you toasted. Pulse again.
That’s it. Well, almost. Stream in olive oil as you continue to blend your pesto. When you’ve reached a consistency you can live with, add the parmesan. Do not pulse it. Just stir it in gently. Because you are blending the cheese with some strong flavors, this is an instance where you can use Parmigiano Reggiano that the dear employees at Whole Foods have already grated for you.
You’re done. You made pesto! I bet it was easier than you thought.
I like to make mine in the morning and let it sit in the fridge throughout the day, especially if I decide I’m in the mood for more garlic. It lets that raw garlic flavor mellow out.
If you find yourself with lots of time and lots of basil, make a bunch of batches. Keep it in your freezer with a thin layer of olive oil on top. Defrost a batch when you are looking for a quick pick up to your pasta or salad.