Wondering what to do with that beautiful, blooming (overflowing?) basil? Pesto is one of my favorite ways to preserve fresh basil. It uses a TON of fresh basil at once, and pesto can be used in a myriad of ways.
Pesto is a high concentration of flavor, so when you use it with low carb pasta, salads, etc. you only need a few tablespoons at a time.
Here are my best tips for perfect pesto every time…
- Toast those nuts! Toasting the nuts prior to whipping them into pesto adds another layer of deep, nutty flavor that raw nuts won’t give you. If you don’t like pine nuts, or they’re too expensive for you, leave ’em out! I’ve done pesto with sunflower seeds, pecans, walnuts – you name it. Each nut will add a slightly different flavor to your pesto, but they’re every bit as good as pine nuts to me. Toast a handful of nuts in a dry skillet over low heat, tossing every other minute until golden.
- Add a piece of ice, or stream in a few tablespoons of ice water while you process the pesto. Basil is a fairly fragile herb that bruises [browns] easily. To keep your pesto vibrantly green, add 1-2 pieces of ice to your ingredients prior to processing, or stream in a few tablespoons of ice water with the oil.
- My third tip isn’t necessarily for pesto. It’s the best way to keep your basil fresh – treat it like a flower! Put it in a small cup with some water on the counter and it will stay fresh until you need it.
[This was some basil I picked out of our local community garden 5 days after I picked it!]
The simplicity of pesto is in the prep – all you have to do is whip the ingredients together in a food processor.
You have this beautiful, bright green, flavorful pesto. The basil is slightly sweet, the cheese and nuts give it a savory, nutty flavor and you get a punch from the fresh garlic.
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Basil Pesto (THM S)
Credit: Erin Murray, My Fling with Food
- 3 cups packed, fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup grated parmesan
- 1/3 c EVOO
- 1/4 c toasted pine (or other) nuts
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 ice cubes or 2 Tbsp ice water
- salt and pepper
- Place all ingredients except olive oil and ice water into a food processor. Flip the switch to begin processing, then add the ice water and stream in the EVOO through the top spout until the pesto comes together.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for later use.