- 8 cups fresh basil leaves, picked off the stems
- 2 cups Parmesan/Romano cheese (we used the blocks and ground them up in the food processor)
- 3 or 4 Tbsp. minced garlic
- 2 1/2 cups olive oil
- 1 cup raw walnuts (optional, as described below)
- Salt and pepper
Optional: Cream (if you want to turn the pesto sauce into pesto cream sauce.
We dashed outside and harvested tons of basil, fearing a freeze was coming. Basil is one of the most delicate herbs imaginable. If you say “COLD!” loudly around it, it will wilt and develop ugly spots. We had completed an entire batch before we realized we had forgotten the nuts. No problem. Pasta tossed with nutless pesto, or nutless pesto spread on tortillas to make pizza is just yummy. But we do like it with nuts, too, so we made a second batch, this time adding walnuts. Pesto freezes well, so make it when the basil is plentiful and use it from frozen the remaining months of the year.
Wash and dry your basil leaves. Pick out any that have spots and discard them. Get rid of the stems/stalks. Get out your ingredients, starting with the garlic, which is a key ingredient in basil pesto!
Unwrap your cheese and process it in the food processor, so it is finelly processed.
Have your olive oil handy. Place your basil leaves into the food processor on top of your cheese.
Process the mixture. Look at the color. If it’s not green enough, add more basil, and a little more olive oil, if you need to. Taste it. Adjust the garlic and add a little salt and pepper, if necessary.
Looks good. Tastes good!
Use a spatula to put it into silicone ice cube trays, which you’re going to wrap in plastic wrap. When the cubes are frozen solid, pop them all into a freezer bag, then use them when you’re in the mood.
You’ll need to have several trays handy. At this point, we thought we were DONE. Then we realized we had not added the NUTS. Oh my gosh. Well, the batch we made tasted fine, but I had plenty more of everything, so it was time to start a second bath.
We used walnuts, instead of pine nuts. There are some imported pine nuts these days that are reportedly causing mouth numbness and temporary loss of the ability to taste. Who wants to risk that? Basil. Walnuts. Garlic.
Plus cheese, of course and olive oil. Process. Taste. Tweak.
The first tray shows the pesto without the walnuts. The next two show it with the nuts. Guess which is prettier? But taste matters, too, and it’s nice to have both.
When you’re ready to use it, just put a frozen cube of pesto (or more, if you’re serving more than one person) into a saucepan and let it thaw over low heat. I like to add cream to make a basil cream sauce and serve over pasta. Top with cracked black pepper.