My Basic Pesto

Pesto is basically a blend of fresh herbs, oil, cheese, and seasonings.  You can alter this recipe any way you like, but remember that the right amount of salt and the right amount of fat really determines the success of a pesto.  If you do not use nuts, expect to add more olive oil and/or cheese to get the right consistency.  As for the herbs, basil is my favorite, but I’ve had luck using parsley, cilantro, and tarragon along with the basil; each gives an interesting flavor to the sauce.  One trick I learned along the way is to pulverize a vitamin C tablet using two spoons and add it to the mix; it seems to help the pesto retain some of its bright color for at least a little while.
 
Add to a small dry saute pan:
1/4 cup of walnuts or pecans
Toast until warm and begin to release a nutty aroma, but do not allow them to burn.  Remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl or plate to cool.  Once they are at room temperature, add the nuts to a food processor.  Pulse until coarsely chopped.  Add to the nuts:
1 large handful of basil leaves (or a mix of basil and other herbs, like parsley and tarragon)
1 clove of garlic, pressed
A pinch of salt
Several grinds of black pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil
You want the pesto to be thick and not too liquid-y, so the processing might take a little bit to get right.  Be patient.  Pulse the mixture until it is paste-y and holds together, scraping down the basil that gets stuck to the sides, adding more oil, if needed.  Once you have the pesto to almost the consistency you want, add:
1/2-3/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Finish blending the mixture until all of the cheese is incorporated and you have a fully paste-y pesto.  Taste for seasoning and add a little more cheese, if you like it saltier.  Remember that you are only using a little pesto for a lot of pasta, so the flavors in the pesto should be pretty concentrated.  Use immediately or transfer to an airtight container and keep in the fridge for about a week.

2 thoughts on “My Basic Pesto

  1. […] and cover to melt.  For serving, coat the bottom of a toasted bun with a generous amount of basil pesto (store bought or homemade), then top with the cheeseburger.  Top the burger with roasted red […]

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