Pesto! It's the herbal culinary equivalent of yelling 'VOILA' and ripping the table cloth off of a set table. Nothing screams 'You'll make it to another spring' like the taste of summer on dreary February nights. In my humble gustatory opinion, pesto is the savory emotional equal of home canned peaches. Both taste of sunshine and long days. Cooking with pesto is as gourmet as I get, the fresh complex flavor makes me feel very Williams Sonoma.
Here are a few ways I utilize pesto, always to rave reviews.
Pesto on homemade chewy skillet pizzas, amazing with just mozzarella, or throw on pine nuts & fungi. Pesto to season minestrone. Some of those late season frozen tomatoes, skinned, kidney beans and whatever veggies you have buried in the deep freeze. Tossed with spaghetti, add broccoli if you're feeling unlazy, maybe a sprinkle of parm and nuts. Spread on sourdough and grilled with mozzarella, toss on some sun dried tomatoes for your all time fave grilled cheese. Mixed with any tomato product for instant Italian flavor and fresh seasoning.
Since pesto has oil and cheese, no canning allowed. I have committed, due to ease and great results, to freezing mine in ice cube trays and storing in freezer containers or bags. I can thaw a couple of cubes for Friday night pizzas in 30 seconds or so by nuking it. This is gourmet, sun-shiney, healthy convenience food! So here's my recipe, tweak to your tastes, enjoy!
2 cups washed basil, packed (this is a loose pile is my big colander, a gently packed full size food processor bowl, or about 3 plants average serial harvesting.)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pinenuts
3 minced garlic cloves
a generous grind of pepper and sprinkle of good salt
I layer the ingredients in no particular order in my food processor, grind coarsely, scrape the sides and grind again. I like a coarse toothsome texture-make it your own! Spoon whatever you don't consume fresh into ice trays and freeze overnight. Pop the cubes into bags for the freezer, use a fork to pop them out if they are stubborn. Mine lasts a year without losing flavor.