There's nothing more I love than cooking for my friends and family. I mostly find it boring and tedious to cook solely for myself. Cooking for others gives me a challenge. Over the past month, I've spent some time up north with my dear college friends who are both getting married this summer. When we're not having raucous bachelorette shenanigans, I'm usually finding any excuse to cook them a meal. One of them had a bounty of basil straight from their garden, which only meant one thing: pesto!
It doesn't take much to make basil beautiful. Some clippings from the garden thrown in a bowl is all it takes for a beautiful composition! Don't even get me started on the smell; it's intoxicating!
For this pesto, we went the super traditional route. The ingredients are all ones you'd find around the house anyway [with the exception of the pine nuts, which can be a bit pricey these days]. Not a fan of pine nuts or find them a little out of reach? Try using walnuts, pecans, or slivered almonds! All make wonderful pestos that you're sure to love.
Parmesan cheese [or any cheese, even if it's vegan!] is essential, though don't feel obligated to use the finest, highest end variety. Any old parm will do just fine.
Garlic is also key. She only had the pre-minced variety, which I'm not a huge fan of, but it turns out when it comes to pesto, any garlic gets the job done. That, plus a bit of salt [this bit looks a little large, but you get the picture].
Here's the quick and dirty recipe I put together. It seems exceptionally basic, and that's because it is! [but in the best way possible, I swear!]
Classic Basil Pesto
- 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted on the stove top
- 1/4 teaspoon salt [plus more to taste]
- 1/4 cup extra olive oil [you may use less, but have this much on hand]
This couldn't be more simple. Collect basil and other ingredients. Toast the nuts lightly in a pan [don't over do it or else all you'll taste is burnt nuts, not appealing, I know]. Allow them to cool, then combine the basil, parmesan, pine nuts, and salt in a food processor [or if you have a good blender] and pulse until it combines. Then, drizzle in the oil until a paste forms. [I like to use as little oil as possible, so as soon as it comes together, you can stop!].
Serve pesto on a sandwich, tossed in pasta, or blended into your salad dressing. There are far too many ways to make use of this delicious concoction. [and it's almost impossible to screw it up!]. Allergic to one of the ingredients? Substitute another kind of nut, or use sunflower seeds if nuts don't work for you.