November 13, 2010



Summer is really Pesto time because that is when the Basil can be picked fresh in your backyard with that unmistakable summer garden taste. But you can make Pesto all year long using fresh Basil from the market.  Pesto is one of those simple recipes that the food processor does most of the work but because of the few ingredients they must be of high quality.  Use Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for the most amazing flavored Pesto.  It is expensive but you only need a cup finely grated and it will elevate the flavor intensely.   Simply stated, you get out what you put in, as in most recipes.  Pesto can also be frozen in an air tight container with a drizzle of Olive Oil on top to protect the flavor and that vibrant green color. Use your delicious Pesto in cold Salads with fresh Mozzarella and Tomato and over hot Pastas.  It can be a used as a sauce for Fish, Shrimp, grilled Chicken or Steaks.  Spread it on toasted rustic Bread and serve with a fresh Green Salad.  There are many way to serve and enjoy fresh Pesto all of which will have you Cooking The Amazing.

Here is the recipe.

3 c  Fresh Basil, loosely packed (about 3 oz.)
3 oz  Pine Nuts, toasted
1 c  Parmesan Cheese, grated fine
2-3  Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
1/3 c  Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3/4 t  Sea Salt, fine grain
3/4 t  Black Pepper, fresh ground course
1 T  Lemon Juice, fresh squeezed

1.  Toast the Pine Nuts in a dry pan (no oil or butter) over medium heat until they turn lightly browned and you start to smell them cooking.  Watch them close, they burn very fast!  Keep them moving in the pan so they do not burn. Toasting brings out incredible flavor.  Taste one before toasting and after to see the amazing taste difference.  This takes about 5 mins.

Pine Nuts are pale and a little dull before toasting them.

After toasting they develop a rich nutty flavor that really improves the Pesto.

2.  Place the toasted Pine Nuts in the food processor.  As you prepare your other ingredients place them in the food processor fitted with a steel blade. Grate the Parmesan Cheese finely.  Finely chop the Garlic.  If you like more Garlic flavor use 3 cloves.  The food processor often can not chop Garlic fine and leaves large chunks so prechopping helps prevent this.  Add the Olive Oil and then squeeze the juice from a fresh Lemon and add 1 T of the juice.  Add the Sea Salt and Pepper.  On top place the fresh Basil with stems removed.

3.  Pulse in the food processor several times to get it going.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl often and then process until all the ingredients are well processed.  About 45 secs.  Taste the Pesto and adjust seasonings or add more Garlic or Lemon Juice if you prefer then reprocess a few seconds to remix.  Do not over process.

4.  Use immediately or refrigerate or freeze right away.  To store place in an air tight container and drizzle a thin layer of Olive Oil over the top to protect flavor and color.  Never cook Pesto over heat.  Always add it to something else that is hot to warm it through like Pasta and fold it in mixing well.

TIPS:  Serve your fresh Pesto over hot Pasta with grilled Shrimp and shaved Parmesan Cheese over top or serve cold in a Mozzarella Tomato Salad.   Toast slices of bread in the oven then spread a layer of Pesto then add fresh diced Tomatoes and shaved Parmesan Cheese as an appetizer or for lunch with Green Salad

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