It’s the first week of August and basil is in abundance. Not only is it thriving on our back patio, it has also arrived spilling over the top of our Farm Share from Siena Farms for the past 2 weeks. That’s my queue to whip up some PESTO! I first learned how to make pesto in Siena, Italy with a mortar and pestle. This method is not for the faint of heart. The benefit is that by using the muddling method, you are able to release the oils from the nuts and basil. If you are inclined, please try! (Begin with the garlic, pignoli and salt, muddle until creamy and slowly add in basil one small handful at a time. Fold in parmigiano and olive oil in the end.) Sabrina and Marco were my cooking instructors. Just imagine delicious italian accents coaching you as your hand grows weary:) In the mean time, I pulled out the food processor and whisked up about 8 cups of this magnificent spread that will get AJ and I through winter even after a couple of hostess gifts.
(yields approx. 4 cups)
- 1 Head of Garlic or 8-10 Cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 Cup Pignoli, roasted (sometimes I split this with walnuts!)
- 5 Cups packed Basil leaves
- 3/4 Cup parmigiano, grated
- 1 1/2 Cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Combine Garlic and Pignoli in Food Processor. Puree until fine, about 30 seconds. Mixture should be pasty. I like to add just a pinch of salt and pepper at this point.
- Add basil. (Note: 5 packed cups of basil is the perfect quantity for my 11-cup food processor.) Pulse. Stop every few seconds and use a wooden spoon to scrape leaves down the side. Continue pureeing until all the leaves have incorporated and the texture is smooth.
- Add Parmigiano and puree another 10 seconds.
- With Food Processor running, slowly add olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Store in an airtight container. Basil will turn a dark green when exposed to air. To preserve the brilliant, bright green color, cover with a thin layer of olive oil. *Pesto freezes well. I like to freeze mine in portioned and dated ziplocs. Sometimes I will make Pesto Cubes in an ice tray and then transfer them to a ziploc as well.
Before the batch hit the freezer, AJ and I whipped up a Pesto and Buffalo Mozzarella Pizza using a flash baked pizza shell. Sabrina and Marco would have been impressed!