Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Summer Pesto

Basil is my favorite summer time herb.

I love to put it in my tomato salads, my scrambled eggs, my sandwiches.

And when it is finally growing lush and tall I harvest it to make pesto.

Pesto is so simple, versatile and just simply divine. I carried a jar of pesto home from Italy years ago and rationed it to make it last as long as possible. But really, it wasn't any better then the simple sauce I make myself from my own homegrown Oregon basil.

I simply take off all the leaves from the stems and wash them in cold water.
Then I spin them dry in the salad spinner.

Pesto is made from just a few simple ingredients.
Garlic, nuts, Parmesan cheese and extra virgin olive oil. The price of pine nuts this season is simply outrageous so I am using walnuts instead. No one will notice the difference.

A food processor is necessary for making this sauce. I pack as many leaves into a two cup measure as I can and put those into the food processor.

Then I add a heaping 1/3 cup nuts, a heaping 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and several cloves of garlic.

Pulse this until all is finely chopped.
Add salt and pepper to taste...

...and then while the food processor is running, drizzle in 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil.

Finished! That easy.

The two cups of fresh basil made one eight ounce jar of pesto sauce.

I also freeze pesto in ziplock bags, flattening the bag so that when I want to use a bit I can easily break a piece off. The pesto can also be frozen in ice cube trays that have been sprayed with a little oil.

Now, what to do with the pesto?

Immediately spread onto a toasted (or not) slice of baguette and eat!

Or better yet...

Make it a little caprese sandwich by adding a slice of fresh mozzarella and tomato. Yum!

Pesto can also be used to make a quick, easy and delicious (a winning trio when preparing a meal) pasta. Simply toss a glob of pesto in freshly cooked pasta (fettuccine is great but any shape will do), sprinkle with more Parmesan cheese and serve!

We like to spread a layer of pesto on our dough when making homemade pizza. Pesto can also be mixed into butter (1:1) for a spread to use in sandwiches or on garlic bread.

Does anyone else have any other delicious uses for pesto?


  1. I just had a pesto open faced sandwich for a snack yesterday! Granted, it was only Sam's Club brand... But now that I know you can use walnuts instead of pine nuts! AWESOME! I just mowed down my herb garden yesterday, so I'll have to save this recipe for next year.

  2. I heard a tip recently that if you pack it in a jar and pour a layer of oil on top (sealing the top from air) it will keep a loooooong time in the fridge as long as you always replenish the oil layer.

    I just made some last week. Need to get more parmesan so I can make more...

  3. McVal- you'll love making your own. It tastes so much better and fresher.

    Rosie_Kate- that's a great tip. I was wondering while I was making it how I could put it into jars for Christmas gifts. I wouldn't want to "can" it and cook it and it's not practical to give frozen gifts, is it? Really, I don't have enough basil yet to have enough pesto to share anyway...but still.

  4. If you pack that in your vacation stuff, I promise to bring you bottles of pisco.


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