What is it about basil that draws you in? Does this happen to you or is it just me? I found these large, fragrant and wonderful basil plants at the Farmer’s Market. They were just calling out to me to be purchased and used immediately. So I bought two! On the short car ride home, the basil plants were perfuming my car with their unmistakable scent.
With plants this large and full of leaves there is really only one thing to do, make pesto. I didn’t have a meal planned for the week using basil or pesto, but that is okay because pesto freezes wonderfully. With frozen cubes you always have it ready for a quick sauce or add a cube for extra flavor in almost any dish.
I also did some testing to determine my favorite basil pesto recipe. One would think that pesto should be fairly simple … basil, nuts, cheese and olive oil … and you would be correct, it has just a few ingredients. However, I have learned a few slight but important factors in making pesto.
First, you want your basil to be fresh. I recommend so fresh that you are picking it off the plant and using immediately. You want the leaves the be all green (no brown spots) and not wilted. Because this is a simple recipe, each ingredient has to be great. Next you will want to toast the nuts you are using. Why? It will bring out the natural oils in the nuts and also the flavor. In a pinch you can make the pesto without toasting the nuts but I think it is worth the extra step. Finally, two cheeses make the flavor more complex. I did make a version with Parmesan only but don’t get the well-rounded cheese flavor like it did with Parmesan and Pecorino.
Sometimes a few simple steps can make all the difference. Enjoy!
- 2 cups Fresh Basil Leaves, packed
- ⅓ cup Toasted Pine Nuts
- 1 clove Garlic
- ⅔ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- ¼ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- ¼ cup Grated Pecorino Cheese
- ¼ tsp Kosher Salt
- ¼ tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- In a food processor add the basil, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil, blend until well combined.
- Add the cheeses, salt and pepper, then pulse until smooth.
- Transfer to a small bowl or portion in ice cube tray to freeze.