This year I had grand plans of growing my own basil on the kitchen window ledge, like like I did last year. Then, once it had grown too big for the kitchen, I was going to cut off the leaves and make a huge batch of pesto.
But different things happened, I never got around to planting the basil in the Spring, and if I had it would have likely been among the houseplant casualties found after I returned home from the month and a half we spent in England this summer.
In the end I found myself scrambling, watching our neighbourhood market for signs of the bunches of the last end-of-summer basil. I brought home a huge bunch to use, and I will admit that the resulting pesto was all eaten by Mikey and myself before the week was out.
It’s great to have pesto on hand, for easy weeknight meals or for quick lunches. We put this pesto into oven roasted pasta (with cherry tomatoes & leftover roasted chicken, sprinkled with mozzarella), ate it in our sandwiches or just spread onto bread by itself.
It’s simple to make, and tastes a hundred times better than the stuff you can buy in a jar at the store. I think that even the most haphazard cook wouldn’t have any difficulty.
Pesto is usually made to taste based on ingredients already at hand, so using these ingredient quantities as a base feel free to adjust them to your own taste. I like to often add extra garlic, and sometimes throw in a few spinach leaves too if I have them.
Homemade Basil Pesto
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
freshly ground black pepper
Add the basil, pine nuts, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and garlic cloves to a food processor and blend until nearly smooth. Scrape down the sides of the processor with a spatula as needed.
Salt and pepper to taste, add the Parmesan and blend again. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.
Serve with pasta, over baked potatoes or freshly baked french bread.
Notes: Makes around 1 cup of pesto. This recipe will freeze, but you need to omit the cheese and add it once the pesto is thawed.