Tasty Tuesday: Homemade Pesto

Do you make a weekly pilgrimage to the local farmers market? ….ah, the sounds and smells and colors make me glad to live in the Appalachian mountains! I’m always delighted when I find someone selling huge bunches of fresh basil. In fact, I probably can locate anyone selling basil with my eyes shut, the basil is so fragrant right now. I am nursing along two little basil plants of my own here at home and I can hardly wait to use them for pesto. Pesto is one of those things that I keep in my freezer year round because it’s such an important flavor in my cooking.

Not long after we were married, I wangled pesto recipes from both my father-in-law and my sister-in-law. Both were excellent cooks and served fabulous pesto. Their recipes are slightly different, so you can try them both out if you aren’t sure which sounds better.

Years ago I always made pesto in the blender. That works but it’s always challenging to keep stuff circulating in the blender. (I’ve accidentally blended more than my share of rubber spatulas doing this.) I’ve found that a food processor is MUCH handier for making this stuff.

Jim’s Pesto

  • 2 ounces of olive oil
  • 2 ounces of white wine (I see that I accidentally wrote “white Whine” on the recipe card!)
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 c. washed and lightly packed basil leaves

Liquefy and then add 1 c. fresh grated Parmesan and toasted pine nuts (optional).

This pesto can be frozen in the deep freeze for several months. If it’s kept too long in the freezer, it tends to lose its flavor.

Clair’s Pesto

  • 3 c. fresh basil leaves (can also use part spinach leaves)
  • 1 c. fresh parsley (optional)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic (or more if you like)
  • salt and pepper

Put in food processor and add olive oil until it blends…maybe 3/4 of a cup? (you can also use half oil and half red wine if you want to cut down on oil)

Throw in about 3/4 c. pine nuts or walnuts and blend until chopped.

Add approximately 3/4 c. parmesan cheese.

Toss with pasta or vegetables or shellfish or or or or or

Spread the pesto on french bread. This also makes a really powerful sauce for pizza. Wooboy…the flavors will knock your socks off. (Try this pesto with some sundried tomatoes, chicken, artichoke hearts, grated provolone cheese and toasted pine nuts on a pizza crust…be sure to cut into very small appetizer type pieces.)

Clair also recommends storing extra pesto with a thin layer of olive oil on the top, whether in the fridge or the freezer. This prevents the basil from turning black.

Pesto has turned into one of those staples that simple needs to be in my fridge at all times for emergencies. It’s practically a food group…right up there with chocolate and garlic

Added notes after actually making my last batch of pesto: I also added 1 t. lemon juice and 1 t. rice vinegar. In the future I will also use grilled garlic instead of raw garlic.

If you’re not a friend of dairy and would like a recipe that uses feta cheese instead of parmesan, go here.

For a pasta salad using pesto, go here.

For a delicious Pesto Swirl Bread, go here.

Or perhaps you feel that you simply have too much pesto…..

However you use it, pesto tastes like summer all year round, and I figure that being green makes it some kind of vegetable. Sort of!

Barb Kelley.