Aug 7, 2012

Basil Pesto

Mmmm…pesto.  I've never found a store bought version that can compete with home made, so I crank out about fifteen jars each summer and freeze them for use throughout the year.  I usually run out of the previous years' stockpile around the time my garden is producing a ton of basil - I harvest the leaves and make pesto at least twice during the growing season.  We enjoy it on pasta, pizza, eggs, toast, seared steaks, baked chicken…and I always take a jar of it when we go camping in the Caribbean for thanksgiving.  Home made pesto makes a supreme gift in the middle of winter!  

Basil Pesto 
This recipe makes 5 half pint jars.

a huge bunch of basil (mine weighed about 6 ounces without stems)
10 ounces grated parmesan cheese
at least 6 cloves of pressed garlic
6 ounces walnuts
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Basil from my home garden.  That's probably equivalent to two bunches from the Eugene farmer's market, or about six bunches from a farmer's market in New York.  I weighed the leaves after spinning the water off and it was very close to six ounces.  

I like it garlicky.  I'll use a whole head if it's kind of small.  

Buy the best parmesan you can afford.  It makes all the difference.  

I use walnuts instead of pine nuts.  Maybe they're affordable on the west coast, but I won't sport for half a pound of 'em in New York.  One of these days, I'll harvest my own pine nuts - and I bet I'll only need a small amount to add a ton of flavor to the pesto.  

Crush the garlic.

Two cups of extra virgin olive oil.

3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.  You can't really taste it in the pesto, but it definitely adds something - and it helps preserve the color.  

1 tablespoon kosher salt.

Toss the ingredients together in a large bowl.

I'd probably use my hands if I weren't handling a camera.  

Add about a third of the pesto ingredients to your blender and push it down with a wooden spoon.  

Blend, pause, push ingredients down.  Repeat.  

Continue with the remainder of the pesto ingredients.   

If it's too thick, just add more olive oil.  

It takes a while in the blender, but it works fine.  Of course you can use a food processor if you have one!

Summer's bounty.

Spoon the pesto into five pint size jars.  

Tappa tappa it down.  

Put lids on the jars and freeze the pesto for up to a year.  

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