What to do with all that basil? PESTO!
I'll start by saying that I have never liked pesto. Any time I tried it at a restaurant, it just didn't do it for me. So, when my husband suggested making pesto with the abundance of basil I had last year, I wasn't really that jazzed. But, what the heck else do you do with all of that basil? So, I made a batch and really, really loved it. Now, I can't imagine not having a massive amount of pesto, made fresh from my garden, at all times. I guess you could say that I love my pesto....
Whether you grow your own basil or buy it at the market (you can buy it in enormous bunches at farmer's markets for just this purpose), trust me when I tell you, you need freshly-made pesto.
The great thing about making pesto is that it keeps for a long time. By simply topping off the top with olive oil so none of the pesto is exposed to the air, you cut down on the oxidation (that's what is happening when it turns brown). Be sure to refrigerate it as well. When you're ready to use the pesto, scrape off the oil from the top and serve!
Here's the recipe I've found turns out the best classic pesto. It's taken from epicurious.com.
4 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I take the already grated stuff)
1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino Sardo or Parmesan cheese
1 tsp course kosher salt
- Combine the first 4 ingredients in a blender (I use a food processor). Blend until paste forms, stopping often to push down basil. Add both cheeses and salt; blend until smooth. Transfer to small bowl.
- Use immediately, or to store, put in small jars and cover with about 1/2 inch of olive oil. Refrigerate.
What can you do with pesto? Lots! In addition to putting it on pasta, you can:
- Toast some crusty bread and use it as a spread. Top it with sun-dried tomatoes, hot pepper flakes or shavings of Parmesan.
- Add some vinegar and oil and turn it into a salad dressing.
- Make pesto bread. Take any bread recipe you've got and bake some pesto into it for a tasty herb bread.
- Pair it with grilled meat or fish like a chimichurri sauce. More of a hamburger kind of person? Spread it on your bun instead of ketchup.
- Put a dollop in soups. It makes a great pairing with bean, potato or root vegetable (like celeriac) soups.
- Spread some on your morning eggs.
- Mix it with cooked red potatoes for a pesto potato salad. Add some red onions and chives for a little extra zing.
- Replace your red sauce with pesto and make pesto pizza.
- Make pesto butter. Mix about 3/4 cup of pesto with about 4 TBSP of soft butter.
- Spread it on corn before you grill it.
- The possibilities are endless...
What do you do with pesto? Share in the Comments!