If I was left in charge of the plants at my house, everything would be dead. While I can cook, I can't grow anything to safe my life. Even those house plants that are supposed to be fool-proof seem to die under my care. Fortunately, Roy is a good gardener so we have some lovely plants both inside and outside of our home. He always makes sure to grow some edible plants for us to use in the kitchen - a variety of chilies for him to make salsa with and some herbs for me. Every year he manages to take care of three large basil plants that provide us with an abundant amount of the vivid green leaves.
This means that during the summer I make a lot of pesto, and we eat a lot of pesto. I know that many people freeze their basil and/or pesto for use throughout the year, but we somehow manage to eat it all during the summer. That may have something to do with the fact that Roy and I would be happy to eat it every other day.
It's now December and I haven't thought about pesto recently as our plants are finished for the year. However, the other day I was watching Lidia Bastianich make pesto on TV and I was practically drooling. I really felt a strong desire to have pesto after that. Luckily, we had some friends come over on Sunday, so I had a great excuse to make pesto. And, basil is available year round in my market so it was easy to pick up some.
I grew up eating pesto, and my family has always followed this basic recipe:
2 1/2 cups lightly packed basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Toast the pine nuts in a skillet or oven until lightly browned. Set aside to cool. Place the pine nuts, garlic, and basil in food processor and pulse until finely chopped. With the processor running, slowly add the olive oil. Add the cheese and pulse just to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Makes enough pesto to dress one pound of pasta.
Note: This pesto is on the thicker side, which means that it lends itself well to other applications such as spreading it on a crostini. When you use it to dress pasta, you may need to add some of the pasta cooking water and you will want to add a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and a tablespoon or two of butter. Yes, I said butter. I know that is not traditional at all for pesto, but my mom always threw in a pat of butter right at the end. Linguini is my favorite pasta to have with pesto, but this will work on any shape.