If your herb pots runneth over with a bumper crop of fresh basil, and you’ve already exhausted your appetite for Caprese Salad, there is only one thing left to do. Make pesto! Lucky for you, making pesto is a snap as long as you have access to tons of basil and a blender (or food processor). This version from Bon Appetit is a classic, rounding out the sharp bite of basil and fresh garlic with mellow pine nuts and parmesan. (Just promise me you won’t buy the powdered kind in the green can – we need to have some standards for this!)
The trick to keeping the vibrant green color is to protect the pesto from exposure to the air. Easier said than done? Not really. Once the pesto is ready to store, pour some olive oil over the top which will seal it from the air before you cover it. That should help it stay bright green instead of turning black.
If you have enough basil to make a double or triple batch of pesto, you can easily freeze the leftovers for use later. Simply spray a plastic ice cube tray with cooking spray and fill each cube with a spoonful of pesto. Freeze until solid and then transfer the pesto cubes to a heavy duty freezer zip top bag. Remove as much air as possible from the bag before sealing and then place in the freezer. In January when you’re craving a taste of summer, you can take out as many cubes as you need and savor some summer pesto! Brilliant.
Adapted from Bon Appetit August 2004
Yield: Makes about 1 cup
4 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts (or walnuts if you prefer)
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1. Combine basil, olive oil, pine nuts, and garlic in a blender or food processor. Blend until paste forms. Stop frequently to push down basil with a spatula.
2. Add cheese and salt and blend until smooth.
(This can be made one day in advance. Top with olive oil to preserve color, cover tightly, and chill.)