I love to cook. There’s just something creative about the cooking process that appeals to me. Now, if you ask my boys, they’ll say I never cook. My response is simply “independent living skills.” (They’re old enough to fend for themselves – and it’s a skill they should have, lest their future wives be forced to teach them how to be grown ups.)
While I don’t like “having” to cook every day (after cooking 3 meals a day for nearly 20 years, burn out is inevitable,) I do enjoy cooking for fun, on my terms, when I want to do it.
This past weekend, I harvested a boatload of herbs from the garden. I’ve got oregano, parsley and rosemary drying in the kitchen window. My basil plants, however, have taken over and are exploding through the garden fencing. I cut them way, way back to encourage bushier growth and to give myself a little break from daily flower pruning. As such, I wound up with a grocery bag full of fresh basil leaves. (And that was AFTER trimming away all the stems and sickly-looking leaves!)
Sunday dinner was a lovely roasted chicken, some homemade mac & cheese, baby limas, fresh bread, and a divine pesto dip. I love pesto. Toss it in pasta. Dip fresh crusty bread in it. Sprinkle it on salad. Spread it on chicken. You name it, I’ll probably put pesto on it.
I thought I might share my favorite pesto recipe. Forgive my less-than-exacting measurements, but I’m one of those cooks that pinches, handfuls, and splashes as opposed to precision measuring. I add ingredients to taste – sometimes based on how much I have of a particular ingredient. With that said, you might need to experiment to get just the right flavor.
What You’ll Need:
- Fresh basil leaves
- Fresh garlic
- Pine nuts
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Parmesan cheese
- A food processor
Toss 2 parts basil, 1 part pine nuts, and 1 part garlic cloves in your food processor. Pulse until everything is finely ground. Add enough EVOO to make a thick paste and pulse some more. Add kosher salt (about a teaspoon at a time until it’s just the right amount for your tastes) and a healthy amount of Parmesan cheese and pulse a couple more times. That’s it. That’s your basic pesto.
If you want pesto to toss in pasta or salads, you can just use the paste as-is.
If you want pesto as a dip for fresh bread, add more EVOO so that the pesto is a little thinner.
If you want pesto to spread on chicken, you might want to make the paste a little thicker. Remember, that EVOO is going to thin as the chicken bakes. Thicker pesto is also really good mixed with cold chicken chunks for sandwiches – especially on crusty bread.
If you find you have a really good basil harvest, you can freeze pesto for the off season.
What’s your favorite pesto recipe? What do you do with all that basil going crazy in your garden?