Pesto can be such a versatile thing to have around, and making it at home is such an easy and rewarding project. I always plant some sweet basil plants each spring in anticipation of their abundant growth and distinctive fragrance. With a tendency to over plant these prolific growers, I limited myself to just two plants this year and have churned out my first batch already after just a month of growth. Now that we are seriously in the growing season, there should be another batch in 2-3 weeks! Fortunately, you can also purchase fresh basil from the local farmers’ market or grocery store as well if you lack any from your garden.
There are several varieties of basil, each with its own signature flavor. The kind served with a luscious bowl of hot Pho in Asian restaurants is so spicy, and a wonderful flavor enhancer of that steamy noodle soup. The noodles are gluten-free, made from rice, and a part of the 20 in 80/20, Paleo eating described last week. Going to your local nursery, gently touching the leaves of the different basil varieties, and smelling your fingertips, will clue you into how they taste.
Recipes abound for pesto but they pretty much look the same to me. I can’t claim authorship of this universal combination of just a few ingredients. So here’s what to do with your harvest or purchase:
2 cups fresh sweet basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup Parmesan, Parmesan-Reggiano, or Romano cheese, grated
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup walnuts or pine nuts
3 cloves garlic
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste – (I used not quite a ½ tsp. of Kosher Salt and about the same amount of black pepper)
HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:
• Add the garlic cloves and pulse some more.
This should yield over a cup of fresh pesto for you to enjoy, give away, or both!
What to do with pesto? Well…..add your fresh pesto sauce to:
– some zoodles (See Post) for a tasty side dish
– sautéed shrimp
– cooked chicken
– dip a piece of GF (gluten-free) bread into
– enhance GF sandwiches or deli meat roll-ups
– spread onto salmon before baking
– top any cooked veggie
Fresh pesto is a great thank you gift to your kind neighbor who watered your basil plants for you while you were on vacation!