Pesto is a wonderful way of preserving the flavor of fresh basil. This recipe is basic, however, it is variable and can be customized to taste. Pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week, and in the freezer up to a year. Pesto can be used creatively. Some suggestions for use have been added as well. If you have a creative use for it, feel free to submit it.
• 2 cups fresh basil leaves
• 1/4 – 1/2 cup parmesan / Romano cheese grated (try to find a low fat version)
• 1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil or canola oil
• 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic
• ¾ cup pine nuts or walnuts
• A couple pinches of black pepper
On medium heat, toast your choice of nuts until golden brown. This releases the aromatic flavour of the oils in the nuts. Put aside to cool.
Once the nuts have cooled, use a food processor or a blender to grind up nuts. Add the basil leaves, parmesan and garlic to the blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Scrap down the sides to grind all the leaves and garlic. Slowly add the olive oil until a desired consistency is reached.
Note to friends: Don’t rush cooling the nuts! If you add the cheese and the basil to the hot pine nuts, the cheese is going to melt into a gooey mess and the basil is going to turn brown….I know…because I did this once.
Some people add salt to this recipe, but lets face it… You’re probably going to add salt to whatever dish you are going to cook with the pesto, so lets not increase our blood pressure today with this recipe.
When I am done making the pesto, I portion it out into ice cube trays and freeze it. Once frozen I put the cubes into a plastic resalable bag and leave in the freezer.
I use pesto ALL the time because I love it! Traditionally, pesto is tossed with pasta as a sauce. Sometimes I add a bit of low fat cream cheese and low fat mayo to the mix and make a creamy pesto pasta. It’s the garlic and basil that kick up the flavour of soups or salad dressings. I have made Pesto Pizza where I switched out the tomato sauce and spread pesto on the dough, topping it off with red onions, mushrooms and goat cheese.
There are a ton of uses for pesto so I hope you like my recipe.