how to make basil pesto

Another day off, and another day that I wanted to spend catching up on a good read, hanging out with a good friend, or simply staring into the sky.  Not to be had.  At its end, the day ended up to be quite rewarding, albeit taxing, along the way!  There was so much basil in the yard and garden plot that it was almost overwhelming.  Half the day was spent catching up, over breakfast, with my boyfriend, who is as equally dedicated as I am in this gardening-cooking-preserving journey.  We planned our day, gulped a couple of cups of coffee, and set out to make the most of it, despite the fact that we really wanted to just put in a movie and zone out!
An abundance of basil at the garden plot…about double the amount awaited us at the house.

You can apply this blog post’s concept at almost any level:  cut and harvest at the peak of freshness and flavor, and m-a-x-i-m-i-z-e.  Right after clipping, we headed to Whole Foods and picked up the necessary ingredients for pesto:  olive oil and Parmigiano-Reggiano (both shredded and powdered).  We already had plenty of parsley, sea salt, and pepper at the house, so we were set.

Basil and parsley, after grating in the food processor.

A lot of friends ask me for our pesto recipe, but in all sincerity, the “recipe” always consists of whatever we have the most of, at the time of the pesto-making.  Pesto is a balance of green notes, cheese, oil, salt, and pepper.  Your sense of balance may be completely different than my sense of balance.  I dare you to take those components, blend slowly, and taste along the way.  You will find that you are liberated from a strict recipe format.

Processed basil, parsley, oil, cheese, salt, and pepper.

Although I am refusing to provide a specific recipe, I will give a few tidbits of advice, as you embark upon your journey…

    • Process your parsley and basil first.
    • Scoop into a bowl and add some olive oil, and simply to blend the two (for you die-hard recipe followers, maybe adding a 1/2 cup would be a good start).
    • Stir and add salt and pepper to taste.
    • Add both shredded and powdered Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  The powdered form helps integrate the oil and parsley-basil components, and the shredded form adds texture.  Again, toss it in and experiment!
    • Add peeled, chopped garlic.  Per two cups of leaf matter, add one clove of garlic.  You garlic freaks can add another clove here…
    • Revisit and season (with salt and pepper) to your taste.
    • Add any olive oil.  Seriously, you can’t add too much.  More olive oil provides a lighter texture, and less provides a “chunkier” texture.

 

Our finished product:  “Pesto, Four Ways”:  Pesto served with blanched zucchini, green beans, and onions; pulled pork; blanched, julienned Swiss Chard; and caramelized onions and garlic.

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