That Amazing Little Herb

by Lori on March 6, 2010

As the days stretch out a little longer indicating warmer months are ahead, it’s time to get your summer arsenal together.  I run to this over and over again, because something so simple has proven to be so worthwhile. 

Think about the feeling you get when you put that first bite into your mouth.  It’s unmistakable; you immediately know what it is when you taste it.  For me it’s memorable.

It makes me remember warm days on a sun-drenched beach in Italy, dining al fresco with five wonderful, intelligent women…

…after a full day of hiking and sightseeing through the Cinque Terre.

That’s what happens when an amazing herb joins up with a few friends, gets smashed (up) and develops into something wonderful.

Each individual part complementing the other.

The perfect blend.

A happy outcome.

 A friendship of divine simplicity.

Pesto.
Enjoy it on warm pasta for something simple or use it in place of mayo on your next sandwich or panini.  You’ll be glad you did!

There are many, many variations of pesto out there.  This one is adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

BASIL PESTO

2 cups (packed) basil leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
About 1/2 to 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a food processor (or blender) pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until finely chopped.  With the food processor running, gradually add enough oil to form a smooth and thick consistency.  Transfer the pesto to a medium bowl and stir in the cheese.  Season the pesto with more salt and pepper to taste.  (The Parmesan cheese imparts it’s own salty flavor, so be careful with any added salt.)  The pesto can be made up to 2 days ahead.  Cover and refrigerate if you’re not using right away.  Make sure refrigerated pesto has a good layer of olive oil on top otherwise the pesto may begin to oxidize.

If you are going to use this as a sauce for pasta, make sure to reserve about 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water before you drain the pasta.  You will need it to make the consistency of the pesto thinner so it will coat the pasta better.

This recipe doubles easily.

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