Pesto is one of those deliciously deceptive sauces. It tastes gourmet. (And, that inferior stuff in a jar is priced like it’s gourmet). But it’s really a simple to make and versatile in application. Like some of us hard-core cooks, it’s a real workhorse in the kitchen.
Slap it on some good bread and top with fresh tomato and you’ve got a delicious appetizer. Put it on pizza and suddenly Friday night dinner goes upscale. Whether it’s basil or sundried tomato based, or some herbal fusion variety dreamed up by the assistant to a big time food network chef, there’s not a lot a good pesto can’t do—except perhaps dessert.
This I my basic method for making basil pesto. (The method for making a good sundried tomato recipe is essentially the same, except that you leave out the basil and it takes a little more effort to get the consistency right.)
3 generous handfuls of fresh basil leaves
2 handfuls of walnuts (soaked and roasted) (See this resource.)several cloves of garlic (4 or 5 or just what you have on hand)
2 or 3 Tbsp grated aged parmesan (optional)
olive oil (probably about a cup, but it may be more or less)
Put basil, walnuts, garlic and parmesan into bowl of food processor. Pulse until chopped. Remove lid and push everything down again, then replace lid and turn on full speed. Using the feature that allows you to add liquid while the processor is running, slowly add olive oil a bit at a time until you get the desired texture. You may need to stop the processor and push everything back down several times to get it all worked in. Liver dangerously. You can use more or less of most of the ingredients–for instance, I often make it without cheese, but you could use more cheese if that’s what you like! I like a lot of garlic, some people may prefer a little less.
I’d love to hear from others who have traditional family recipes, or just other methods, as I’m always up for experimenting! If you try making it, write me and let me know how it goes!
Enjoy in a variety of ways. (See previous post on homemade pizza!)