Making Pesto From Your Basil

Making Pesto From Your Basil
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Make Your Own PestoIf you grow basil, you need to try pesto! It's very simple, and you can easily make adjustments to your taste and budget. Before the recipe I just want to mention a few tips about basil. Be sure to pinch the tops of your plants, and don't let it flower. This will basically stop it's growth. If it has started to flower pinch those off immediately.

Basil needs to be watered well-you don't want it soggy, but it shouldn't dry out. When you harvest the basil, cut off the stems, and then strip the leaves for your recipe. Be fairly gentle with them, and harvest JUST before you start your recipe. Some herb growers insist on the sweet basil for pesto, but experiment and use whichever variety you have growing. If you aren't growing basil, check your produce department or local farmers market and you may find it.

The Basic Pesto Recipe

2 cups fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup pine nuts, walnuts or pecans

3 cloves of garlic, sliced

1 tsp. salt

1/3 cup good quality olive oil

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Optional:

1 tsp. lemon juice

1/2-1 cup fresh parsley

Freshly ground pepper

In a food processor, or blender, combine all the ingredients except the cheese. Process the mixture in short bursts until it is smooth. It should not be soupy. If it is too oily, you can add more basil. Scrape down the sides as you work. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in parmesan cheese. Place in a covered container and chill. It will last up to a week in the refrigerator. The optional ingredients are up to you-I've seen many recipes without them, but quite a few that include them.

Notes, Additions and Tips

Ingredients: This is SO varied! Some people insist on pine nuts, others hate them. I always go with the concept of using what you have on hand and what you can afford at the time. Substitute walnuts or pecans if you wish! You can also use Pecorino or Romano cheese for a change.

Salt and pepper should be used to taste. If you are on a low salt diet then leave it out. If you love garlic then try adding more, less if it's too much for your taste. You can also toast the nuts in the oven, or in a skillet before using. As you can see, pesto is not a one try recipe. You'll need to make it a few times to adjust it to your taste. If the above recipe is a little too large for you, then halve it the first time!

Pesto freezes well in ice cube trays. Store the frozen cubes in a plastic freezer bag to use in the off season. Add a cube to soups, stews or tomato based sauces.

Toss fresh pesto with hot pasta, rice, or steamed vegetables. Spread on toasted French Bread, use a dip for bread sticks, or spread on pizza crust in place of tomato sauce.

 

Image: Wikimedia.org

 

About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at Harvestmoongazette.blogspot.com.

 
 

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