Our parsley and basil pot was county class this summer. By mid-September, however, the basil began to look sun-bleached and a little
tired: a reminder for The Little Woman to harvest it all, before the first hard freeze, and have me make a batch of pesto.
Pesto is an uncooked sauce that goes wonderfully with pasta. Just boil up some farfalle-, fettuccine- or fusilli-shaped pasta, drain, add it to a mixing bowl filled with an ounce or so of warmed pesto, toss and
serve on heated plates as a light lunch, an appetizer or as a side with meat. James Peterson recommends pesto as a sauce over grilled meats, fish and vegetables, as well as stirred into a soup a la minute.
Pesto is easy to make if you have a food processor and a lot of fresh
basil leaves. Here’s how:
(See abbreviations, if needed)
1.5oz pine nuts, roasted
2C loose, fresh basil (about 80 leaves or 2 oz), thoroughly dried
1C shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
3-5 garlic cloves
1. Place the pine nuts into a very hot pan and stir them until they begin to brown (don’t burn ’em) remove nuts from pan to hold
2. Place the nuts, basil, cheese, garlic and S/P in the food processor and add 2oz of EVOO
3. Pulse to create a thick emulsion
4. With the food processor running, drizzle in the rest of the EVOO
5. Place the pesto in an air tight jar and hold in the fridge. It freezes well too.
We got together with some dear old friends to enjoy a beautiful fall day over a late lunch and to admire our hosts’ patch of purple basil. We’ve
never seen the stuff before, so of course I had to take an armload of it
home with the promise that I would return with purple pesto–possibly the
world’s first. Pesto is an uncooked fresh-tasting sauce. According
to Herbst, it originated in Genoa.
Its classic use is with pasta, always diluted with EVOO or hot pasta water
(1:1/2 or 1). Diluted with EVOO, it’s delicious on oven roasted veggies and potatoes–whether oven roasted or sautéed and then finished in the oven. Undiluted, a tablespoon stirred, a la minute, into minestrone or served over corn on the cob, green beans or grilled meats, works well. Go here for my pesto recipe.
Our garden basil is gone with the first hard freeze, so it is an autumn ritual to harvest it and make pesto, which I did last week. I did it again with this purple basil, only to discover that we did not have enough Parmigiano-Reggiano to make a double batch. “Why not shred two cups of the Pleasant Ridge Reserve Cheese and make it with that,” the Little Woman suggested. Sure enough, that cheese, described below, was equal to the essential task of imparting strong cheese notes to balance off the basil and garlic. Note the difference in color between the green leaf basil and the purple leaf variant. Neato!