Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pesto season

You may think it's summer vacation season, or baseball season, or mosquito season or, if you're in the southern hemisphere it could be the freezin' season. But here in southern West Virginia, thanks to nearly perfect growing conditions lately, it's pesto season.

As much as my mouth (still) hurts (so bad I can barely eat), I can ignore the pain when I'm cooking. So far today I've made lotsa pesto and an apple cobbler, and there's a dish of fresh corn pudding in the oven. I suppose anything – knitting, cardmaking, reading, weeding, fill-in-the-blank – would distract me, but today I was in a cooking mood.

Good thing, too, since the basil plants were beginning to flower, I'd already harvested the apples and a neighbor dropped off four ears of corn yesterday.

What's that? You've never made pesto? As condiments go, it's pretty easy-peasy. It's best (as always) to have all the ingredients ready to go before you get started. You'll need a food processor, and a salad spinner helps to clean the basil.

The ingredient list is pretty simple:
4 cups washed and dried basil leaves
6 cloves garlic
3 oz. parmesan
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup olive oil
These leaves were snipped from 14 plants. I'm not sure how long it will take before there's enough new growth to make more, but I guarantee I won't be running out of basil before September. I have, perhaps, planted too much. Ahem.

Let the parmesan come to room temperature.
The first of this year's garlic.

Whirl the cheese and garlic in the food processor until it looks like this.
Half a minute or so ought to do it.


With the motor running, add the salt and pine nuts, and then the basil leaves, a few at a time, until it's all smooshed up. It will be dark green and slimy looking, kind of like a thick green smoothie.

Slo-o-o-o-owly add the oil. Not slowly like when you make mayonnaise, but you don't want to dump it all in at once, either. Keep whirling until it looks like, um, pesto! Which won't take long at all.

I make pesto in batches, because my food processor is a countertop (little) model. If you're lucky enough to have a 12- or 14-cup vessel, you could easily double this recipe. I had 10 cups of basil leaves to start with, and made three batches. Each
batch got dumped in a bowl and then when I was done I mixed all of it together thoroughly before I spooned it into jars.

Pesto freezes beautifully, as I'm sure you know, and once thawed it will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

But seriously … who lets fresh pesto sit around in their refrigerator that long? Heh.

1 comment:

Winnie said...

Thanks for the recipe. I have made it it the past, but never with measurments. Your basil is amazing looking. Mine is looking good..Probably a few more weeks until the leaves are that size though. I made pesto last time with walnuts as I couldn't get pinenuts...Works great too. Tip from Jacques Pepin from his show.