Summer’s Bounty~Fresh Basil Pesto

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pesto MARKED

One of my favorite things to make as soon as fresh basil appears at the Farmer’s Market is fresh basil pesto.

If you have ever tasted pesto sauce that has been freshly made, you know there is no comparison to the packaged or even readily-available jarred pesto. Don’t be afraid to try this, this is one of the easiest things to make and it will last and last you this summer.

pasta dish

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I grow basil, both outside in a pot and inside my kitchen window, so I always have some on hand to cook with. However, to make a large batch of pesto, I picked up an extra bunch of fresh basil last weekend at the Farmer’s Market. I also grabbed a clove of fresh garlic from the same vendor, and I really think the “just picked” garlic made it extra flavorful. You do need a food processor to make it my way, but if you don’t have one you could do a lot of fine chopping and mashing together of ingredients and it would work just fine.

basil in processor

The key to really delicious pesto {like most things!} is extra fresh ingredients. In addition to fresh basil, I use good-quality shredded parmesan cheese and typically a high-end olive oil. {note: I used a basic store brand this time because I was out of the “good stuff” but do find that the taste of the olive oil makes a difference, especially if I am serving it to guests}.

parm cheese

To make the Pesto: I rinsed and dried my basil well, then added it to the bowl of the food processor. I added in a handful of almonds–traditional pesto uses pine nuts but my local grocery stores seem to have a sudden shortage of pine nuts, since I couldn’t find any I started using almonds and I really can’t tell a difference. I grind all that together with several cloves of fresh garlic {at least one, but up to 3 depending on your tolerance} until it resembles fine grains. I add a pinch of salt and the parmesan cheese then let it all process together until I like the consistency.

mixed up

After everything is well mixed, I drizzle in a small amount of olive oil to help it hold together. I use just enough to bind it, and I add the rest of the olive oil right to the pesto as I serve it. I find this helps the shelf-life of the pesto, so that the oil doesn’t cause it to eventually go rancid. If you are serving it immediately, you will want to add enough olive oil at this step so that it is more “sauce” then solid.

drizzle in oil

We serve this on pasta regularly, either hot or on a cold pasta salad, on tortellini or on bruschetta. Its just wonderful to have sitting in the fridge all summer for a quick dinner or appetizer.

pesto in jar

RECIPE

1 large bunch (2 cups?) of fresh italian or genovese basil {other flavors of basil will greatly impact the taste, so I stick with the classic flavor}

1/4 to 1/3 cup almonds or pine nuts

1/3 cup fresh parmesan cheese

1/2 t of salt

1 to 3 cloves fresh garlic

1T to 1/4 cup olive oil

Process together and serve or refrigerate. You can also leave the oil out all together and freeze it to keep on hand longer, something I do to use up all the basil that is growing at the end of summer. Also, it makes a sweet little hostess gift if you put it in a cute jar 🙂

Click to print the pesto labels I used on my jar.

pesto

Enjoy!

pesto pasta

Thanks for stopping by!

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Comments

  1. CarolynM says:

    Fresh ingredients definitely make the pesto soooo much better. However, I like to make extra batches and then freeze in ice cube trays. After frozen, I remove the cubes and place them in a freezer bag. All winter long I can take out the frozen cubes as needed and enjoy bright pesto during the drab days of winter.

  2. My first yr of growing basil. Was looking for an easy process to use my basil. Thanks and will use this recipe.

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