I am back-to-school this week and my body is trying to adjust to new rhythms and routines and deadlines and sleep schedules. Although I will greatly miss my beautiful (short) summer break, I am reminding myself that the start of school brings progression towards my goals, adds challenges to my brain, and welcomes the beginning of FALL! Yay, fall! And with fall comes harvest and in the city, harvest means bounty from your neighbor’s urban garden.
Last week’s bounty? Basil. Lots and lots of basil.
So, I made a lifetime’s supply of pesto (16 cups, to be exact). It wasn’t that hard, actually, and honestly, the longest part involved washing and separating the leaves. My neighbor came over to help and we talked for hours as we pulled basil leaves off their branches and food-processed the crap out of my kitchen.
Not gonna lie, I’m a little tired of pesto now, but I shared some with friends and stored the rest in my freezer for a colder day when my pesto cravings might return.
Here’s what you do: (Recipe courtesy of The Barefoot Contessa. I played it safe for my first attempt.)
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Place the walnuts, pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.
Notes: Air is the enemy of pesto. For freezing, pack it in containers with a film of oil or plastic wrap directly on top with the air pressed out.
More Notes: Use a BIG food processor. 5 cups of packed leaves is a lot! I have an 8 cup processor and it was crammed. Also, I will say, our flavor has a very “earthy” tone to it, which I’m guessing is dependent on the basil.
Anyone else have a favorite pesto recipe?