First Classic Pesto of the Season

Now that our basil plants in the EarthBoxes are going like gangbusters, it was time to make the first classic Pesto Genovese for the summer. The recipe I’m providing here is pretty general, since DH and I do  this by eyeball and tastebuds now.

Equipment

  • food processor or mortar & pestle
  • garlic press (optional)
  • knife and cutting board (if you don’t use a garlic press)
  • Microplane  or other fine cheese grater
  • bowls (2) or 1 bowl and 1 plate
  • rubber spatula
  • salad spinner
  • nonstick skillet
  • pot holder

Ingredients

  • fresh basil leaves, approximately 4 cups, lightly packed
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, approximately 1 1/4 cups,  freshly grated
  • pine nuts, approximately 3/4 cup
  • garlic, 4-6 cloves
  • salt to taste
  • lemon juice, approximately 3 Tablespoons
  • olive oil – use the good stuff if you feel like it- there’s no heat to kill the subtle flavors in this recipe.

Prep

  1. Pick all the basil leaves off their stems, then rinse and dry in a salad spinner.
  2. Grate your cheese with the fine cheese grater onto a plate or bowl.
  3. Peel your garlic, if you’re not using a garlic press, or if your garlic press won’t work well with unpeeled cloves.
Heres our basil, in two different varieties

Here's our basil, in two different varieties

Heres the grated cheese

Here's the grated cheese

And some small garlic cloves with the press.  No peeling for me!

And some small garlic cloves with the press. No peeling for me!

Process

  1. Put the pine nuts in the nonstick skillet on the stove over medium heat.  Toast the pine nuts, flipping them every minute or two, until they are toasty.  Don’t leave the stove when you do this because there’s a very fine line between toasted and singed.
  2. Put the basil, pine nuts, and garlic into the food processor or mortar and pestle.  If you’re using the processor, pulse until you get small consistently sized bits.  If you’re using a mortar and pestle, bash the ingredients until you’re satisfied they’re well mixed.
  3. Add olive oil  and pulse or mix until you have a smooth paste/slurry (approx. 3/4 cup)
  4. Using a rubber scraper/spatula, move the paste to a bowl.
  5. Mix in 3/4 of the grated cheese, and about half the lemon juice.
  6. Taste the pesto, then add salt and more cheese or lemon juice until it fits your taste buds.
  7. Use immediately, or store in plastic containers, with plastic wrap pushed onto the surface to prevent oxidization, or with a thin layer of olive oil over the top. Otherwise, the pesto will turn brownish.  This isn’t dangerous, just not as aesthetically pleasing.  Store the pesto in the fridge. It will last a couple weeks.  This recipe made enough for about 2 lbs of pasta.
Beginning of Toasting Procedure

Beginning of Toasting Procedure

Toasted pine nuts - I erred on the side of caution

Toasted pine nuts - I erred on the side of caution

Completed Pesto

Completed Pesto

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