Monday, July 18, 2011

basil pesto

lots of basil. lots.
 Hi friends, welcome--it's been awhile, hasn't it? Well I've missed writing to you, did you know that? And, quite conveniently, I have some things to share with you and a bit of down time to actually make that happen--which is not the norm around here these days, let me tell you.

so much basil
 Summer has been so great--and it seems like, especially when the weather is nice, there is always something to do outside. I've even developed this weird guilt complex about it, like when the weather is beautiful, I can't bear to be indoors--even if I'm doing something productive--because I feel like I'm wasting the sunshine (and probably also because I still can't quite shake how awful that last winter was). The thing is, apparently you can't just go like crazy going on adventure after adventure and not taking time to just freaking sit down once in awhile. Well, I can't, I guess. I get tired--I know, really, ginger? ...and then I fall asleep at work because I did too much sweet stuff...acceptable? Ah, no.

 So right now I'm sitting. Even though a bike ride sounds fun, I'm going to stay here, resting and hanging out with you. Besides, I need to tell you about the pesto.

Sigh. I know, I know, you're thinking that making pesto with basil is just about as common and boring as it gets, but first of all, I had no idea what to do with all of my basil (there was so much), and second of all, pesto really is delicious--It tastes like summer. Also, there is so much you can do with pesto--so many things to smear it on and mix it in...that's where the creativity is!

So here's my pesto for you--and I think you should probably track down a large amount of basil sometime soon so you can make some. You won't regret it, I promise.

Basil Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup walnuts
3 medium garlic cloves
1 tsp. lemon zest (optional)
a healthy pinch of coarse salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put the walnuts in a food processor and pulse a few times so they are coarsely chopped. Combine the basil with the nuts and pulse a few more times. Add the garlic, and yep, you guessed it, pulse again.
Next, turn on the food processor and slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream (do this while the motor is running--this is what makes the pesto smooth and creamy-ish). Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula to make sure you don't miss any basil. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Finally, add the lemon zest, if you're using it, and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Mix into pasta, spread on good bread with homemade ricotta (a story for another time), use for pizza, or to top grilled chicken or fish, eat it on crackers, throw it in your get the idea, be creative, you know I like that!

 This was the first spot my pesto ended up--on a little pizza with some feta and slices of the baby zucchini I found at the farmer's market.

cute, right?
I'd never had those things together before, but it was pretty great. It should be fun to figure out ways to use the rest of it!

Happy hot weather, friends, I'm off to Alaska!


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