Simply sophisticated basil pesto

Pesto pasta always seemed so much more exotic to me than a red sauce, or even Alfredo. When I finally decided to make it myself, I was amazed at how easy it is! If you have a mountain of basil to use or freeze before Mother Nature nips it with frost – or if you have a great farmer’s market or local grocery that can supply it, I encourage you to make a batch to eat immediately, and another one or two for freezing.

Pesto pasta is one of my granddaughter Olivia’s favorite meals, and she’s asked me to img_9206make it for her birthday the past few years. Now she knows how to make it too!

Basil Pesto

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
2/3 cup vomFASS extra-virgin olive oil, divided
vomFASS Pyramid Sea Salt and freshly ground Peppecorn Mix, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese

Very briefly blanch the fresh basil in very hot water to set the bright green color (thanks for the tip, Splendid Table!) Dry the basil in a salad spinner or on paper towels. Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the olive oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese. If you are using it on pasta, reserve 1/2 cup of hot pasta water and add to pesto to melt cheese and liquify enough to easily coat the pasta. Add pasta and toss to coat. I like also like to marinate chicken or shrimp in pesto before grilling.

If freezing, transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Freeze for up to 3 months. Stir in cheese after thawing.

I hope you enjoy making and eating this pesto as much as Olivia and I did!

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