This spring, we planted four big pots of basil to use in our restaurant, Randelli's Gourmet Pizza. It's so much easier to grow it ourselves rather than having to order it from the produce distributor. But it seems the more we harvest it, the more it grows! What to do? Make some fresh basil pesto!
Here is a simple and delicious recipe. I ususally use Parmesan cheese, but you might want to try it with Romano or Pecorino cheese which have a stronger flavor. Most basil pesto recipes call for pine nuts but it's also good with walnuts.
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
2 cloves minced garlic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.
2. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Serve with your favorite pasta or spread over toasted baguette slices.
Yield: Makes 1 cup.