As the season progresses, I'm finding my garden producing so much basil that -- for a moment -- I wasn't sure what to do with it all. Then, the answer came like a blaze of lightening across the sky: Pesto!!! This tangy sauce is for more than pasta, my friends. Pesto can add texture to your favorite vegetable dish, color to simple spreads and flavor to just about anything!
Your basic pesto recipe consists of fresh basil and olive oil. Of course, what makes it grand is the amount of variation found in this old Italian favorite. It can be made with or without pine nuts or walnuts -- toasted or untoasted. A small amount of parsley can always be added to take a little edge off of the sweetness. Parmesan cheese -- or a combination of your favorites -- can also find its way into pesto. And, when it comes to measuring, you'll find many cooks using pinches of this and bunches of that. It's all in the mixing!
As for mixing, there are those who would insist that a mortar and pestle are the only proper tools for making pesto; and this is the method I use when making small amounts for one meal. However, when you're making pesto for large crowds or to freeze, a food processor or blender can be your best friend!
Because too much pesto can be a bad thing, I freeze my batches in small jars and use a spoon to scoop out the amount I want. That way, I can return the rest of my pesto to the freezer, where it will keep for about 6 months.
The recipes included in this article use the pesto recipe that is provided on page 2. However, feel free to make variations and use them instead. If you have a special recipe, feel free to share it with me too!
And now, here are the specials of the house this month: