I love garlic. It is like a great, divine god of the food world. Pesto is a lovely concoction – not only with garlic, but cheese, fresh roasted nuts, a lovely olive oil and Basil (the mother of all summer herbs).
Despite the sacred flavoring this little number will bring to your pastas, tomatoes and appetizers, I do have one warning. If you have plans for a good night kiss, make sure they eat some of this pesto, too. Otherwise, your partner might be in for a rude awakening!
Yield: About 4 Cups
6 Cups Fresh Basil Leaves, de-stemmed, washed and dried
1 Cup Toasted Walnuts (bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 5 minutes)
1/2 Cup Dry Roasted Soy Nuts*
1/2 Head Garlic (about 7 Cloves), Peel and Chop
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp Worcestershire
1 Cup Shredded Parmesan
1 1/4 Cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Tsp Sea Salt
*Note: You can also use 1/2 cup of traditional Pine Nuts and toast them with your Walnuts. I like the flavor and crunch of Soy Nuts and find they are a less expensive and tasty substitute.
1. Prepare all Basil, Nuts and Garlic as mentioned above.
2. In a food processor combine 1/2 the Basil and 1/2 the Nuts. Pulse until finely ground. Add additional Basil and Nuts and all Garlic and grind until fine.
3. Add Lemon Juice, Worcestershire, Parmesan, Olive Oil and Salt. Puree in food processor until smooth (I left mine a little chunky for more nutty texture, but the final texture is up to you). More time is required for a smoother blend.
4. You can use Pesto fresh or put in a freezer safe container and freeze for up to a few months. If you refrigerate Pesto cover with a thin layer of Olive Oil (you can refrigerate for a few days). For freezing, I recommend freezing in individual batches to assist in thawing. Be sure to put in fridge to thaw – Pesto shouldn’t be thawed in the microwave.
5. Here are a few ideas for your fresh Pesto:
Pesto Pasta– toss Rotini noodles, fresh tomatoes, spinach, sautéed zucchini and onions, and pesto.
Pesto Roasted Tomatoes– core tomatoes, cut in 1/2, place on a baking sheet face up, slather with a thin layer of pesto and bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes until tomatoes are cooked through.
Pesto Bruschetta– Cut a baguette into 1/2 slices, drizzle lightly with olive oil, add a thin layer of pesto, add one dollop of creamy goat cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes until lightly browned.