Italian Basil Pesto

Make this pesto recipe when basil is being harvested in abundance. Enjoy some right away, and freeze some for later use.

Preparation Time:  20 minutes

Cooking Time:  7 minutes

Yields:  2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups lightly packed fresh Italian basil leaves, blanched
    • 2 quarts water (for blanching)
    • 1 tbsp kosher salt
    • Ice water bath
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 plus 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • Chili flakes to taste
  • Kosher salt to taste

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Procedure:

  • Grate Parmesan Reggiano and measure out 1/2 cup; set aside.
  • Toast pine nuts if not already toasted.
  • Peel garlic; set aside.
  • Remove basil leaves from stems, discard the stems and any discolored leaves, wash and drain three times to remove any sand or dirt, spin dry; set aside.

Cooking:

  • Blanch basil:
    • Pour the water into a large soup pot, add 1 tbsp kosher salt, bring to a boil.
    • Add the fresh basil leaves, stir, after 1 minute remove the basil using a slotted spoon and place immediately into the ice bath to stop the cooking.
    • Remove the basil and using your hands squeeze out as much water as possible.
    • Place on a cutting board, chop, add to a high-speed blender.
  • Add the olive oil, grated cheese, pine nuts, garlic cloves, and 1 tbsp of lemon juice to the blender, puree until you reach your desired consistency.
  • Test for seasoning:
    • Add more lemon juice if desired
    • Add chili flakes and salt to taste.
    • If the pesto is too thick for your preference you may also add a little more olive oil at this time.
    • Give the pesto a quick pulse or two in the blender to incorporate anything you may have added.
  • Your Italian basil pesto is ready to use!
    • Add to your favorite pasta dish, spoon onto roast chicken, marinate veggies before roasting, or even garnish soups with a spoonful of this flavorful and very versatile sauce!

Storage:

  • Spoon the pesto into a storage container (with a lid), place a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the pesto and press lightly to remove any air pockets, place the lid on and refrigerate.  May be stored in the fridge for up to seven days or frozen for up to six months.

Enjoy!

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