How to Make Pesto – Part 1 – Basil Pesto
This is gonna be one of the simplest things you’ve never made. At least that’s what I thought when I made it for the first time about a month ago.
I don’t know why I’d waited this long.
I was missing out.
It literally takes about 10 minutes.
It takes nuts (I had almonds).
It’s great with cheese (I used parmesan).
Garlic is essential (as it is to most things).
Olive oil holds it together.
And something green rounds it all out.
In this case, the green is basil.
We will get into other types of pesto on another day.
For today, let’s stick to the basics.
It’s important to use good olive oil… always, not just for pesto. I know the people at Bari. They’re awesome. I’ve gone in to their mill and seen them in action. I’ve tasted oil that was olives that same morning. This is seriously spectacular stuff.
You can use whatever blending device you prefer. I have a great KitchenAid hand blender that is perfect for pesto. It came with this cute little food processor attachment, which works well for this task.
Now, here’s a little trick I’ve tried.
Two tricks actually.
The first one is: To get the parchment paper to lay flat, scrunch it into a ball, wrinkle it all up, then smooth it out. No more curling up and rolling away.
Second: By portioning out the pesto in advance, there’s no need to wait for the whole container to thaw to use it. Just pop off a layer and leave it in the fridge overnight (in a sealed container), or on the counter for a little while, to bring it to room temperature.
You could stand there eating it out of the bowl (your significant other may ask you if you’ve been eating salami, because of the garlic breath… no big deal… yes, this has happened at our house before). Raw garlic is good for your immune system, so go ahead! Or, ahem, get some good bread and slather it with pesto. I mean, c’mon. That’s dinner right there.
If you want a little more than just pesto and bread for dinner, how about a twist on a Caprese Salad to start with? Layer some sliced tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and top with pesto. Or, on the salad note, you could add it to a Panzanella if you’d like – mix it in with the dressing. You could follow that with some Chicken Parmesan topped with Pesto alongside some Roasted Bell Peppers and Squash.
If you want a vegetarian dinner, Eggplant Parmesan would be great topped with pesto. Serve it with some Roasted Zucchini and Crusty Bread for mopping up.
I could eat pizza most days. You could go simple and do mozzarella and pesto. You could add some chicken to the mozz and pesto. You could keep it vegetarian and add tomatoes or zucchini.
Basil always works in soups. You could top a Roasted Eggplant Soup with pesto. Add it to a Minestrone Soup. Serve it on toast alongside (and be sure to save a few bites to mop up any last drops of soup).
You could mix it in to some wild rice. Serve that alongside the Chicken or Eggplant Parmesan for a nice meal.
And finally, for breakfast, you could poach some eggs and drizzle them with pesto. Serve with your favorite toast.
- 1/2 C almonds or pine nuts
- 2 C packed down (about 1 bunch) fresh basil
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 to 1/2 C olive oil
- to taste salt
- 2 T to 1/4 C parmesan cheese
- Place all ingredients in a blending apparatus (food processor, hand blender, blender) and blend, adding more olive oil and scraping down the sides as needed.
- Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
- Divide into 4 and spread on four pieces of parchment paper, which can be stacked in a freezer safe container.