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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Basil,oh basil.

    Every year about this time my herb garden really starts to take shape and color. The plants that made it through the winter,like sage and rosemary, have settled into their summer attire and grown out of their winter coats. I make my handful of trips to my favorite nursery here in town,Trees By Touliatos to pick up the annual herbs,namely basil. Now let's be honest,basil has it's many roles to play in many different recipes,but truth be told,I buy it for one reason,basil pesto. Pestos are traditionally a means of preserving herbs and this day and age we can freeze little cubes of it for later and enjoy the spoils of summer into the cooler months. You thaw your little cubes of green goodness,stir in the cheese and ta-da!  pesto. It does well in pasta,brushed on bread for zippy garlic bread of sorts or my most favorite, Caprese salads (more on that soon). I have tested and tried a number of slightly different basil pesto recipes in the last few years and have found the ONE ! And after tasting the finished product it was heaven,beautiful and just plain fantastic. Enjoy,from my food processor to yours!

 Basic Basil Pesto
Adapted from the only cookbook you'll ever need How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman (this guy has got it together)
2 loosely packed cups of fresh basil leaves,big stems discarded,rinsed and dried
Salt to taste
1/2 to 2 cloves garlic,crushed
2 TBL pine nuts,walnuts ,lightly toasted in a dry skillet
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes *optional
1/2 c extra-virgin olive oil,or more
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan or other hard cheese (optional,but I think it really blossoms in pesto,taste what you make,you'll know)
- Combine the basil,salt ,garlic,nuts,and about half of the oil in a food processor or blender.
-Process,stopping to scrape down the sides of the container occasionally,and adding the rest of the oil gradually.If you want it thinner add a little more oil until desired consistency is reached.Stir in the Parmesan by hand just before serving (if your going to use it up in a few weeks or less,I've found that you can go ahead and stir in the cheese,it'll do fine). Store in the fridge for a week or two, freeze it in ice cube trays ( if you choose to freeze,go ahead and grate your cheese pour it into a ziploc bag and freeze right along with the ice cube tray or just grate up the cheese right before serving the pesto)
-Gosh you're going to love this stuff,I man really... LOVE.

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