Sunday, July 24, 2011

Perfect Pesto

One of the things I love the most about cooking is not just preparing fresh, healthy and delicious food, it is also the thrill of learning how to cook something new!!  A few years ago I discovered pesto for the first time (shocking, I know, but I used to be the pickiest eater)  and it was love at first sight.  The combination of a long favorite of mine, garlic, combined with a new favorite, basil, in addition to toasty nuts and parmesan cheese equaled heaven to my palette!

While I was shopping at our local farmer's market, I purchased two big bags of fresh basil for a dollar each, much less expensive than the grocery store, and much more leaves than my 'lil basil plant in the backyard.  (None of my potted herbs this summer are holding up well against these recent heat waves, any suggestions to keep my plants alive would be welcomed!)  Regardless, I was so excited about seeing these large bags of basil, I knew I had to try to make my own pesto!  Below is the winning combination that not only appeased my friends but also my husband.

Jess' Perfect Pesto

3 cups of fresh basil
1 cup of Italian parsley*
1/2 cup of pine nuts, toasted till golden
1/4 cup of freshly grated good quality parmesan
3 large garlic cloves (or 3 tbsp of minced garlic)
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, add up to 3 more tablespoons if desired

I decided to blanch my basil leaves.  Blanching is great to do if you want to freeze some pesto for later, and it also brightens up the color of your pesto.  It is easy to blanch - bring a pot of water to boil, and preparing a bowl of icy water.  Pick a bunch of basil with kitchen tongs and immerse in the hot water for 2-3 seconds.  Then submerge basil in the ice bath.  Blanching basil leaves is apparently controversial, but it really comes down to the condition of your ingredients.  If your basil looks great, is fresh and fragrant, skip this step!

*I found that mixing in some fresh parsley into this recipe not only gave it a great flavor, it also gave the pesto a beautiful color.

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process for about 30 seconds.   I just adore my Cuisinart 9-cup food processor.  Thank you Julie and Steve for the fabulous gift!!

Enjoy!!! Pesto is such a great addition to any of your summer recipes!  Let me know if you have any favorite pesto recipes, I have been on whirlwind of preparing pesto dishes lately!

Remember to follow me on Twitter @CheesePlease531
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