Recipe adopted from The New Best Recipe.
With fall fast approaching, I thought it was about time to make use of the three basil plants in our home garden. Although I've briefly mentioned the process involved in making a pesto in my asparagus pesto risotto recipe, I have yet to lay out the ingredients to a traditional basil pesto. For those not familiar, a traditional pesto is such a classic because of its simplicity and ability to highlight key flavors. Although typically made with a mortar and pestle, most home cooks today (including myself) opt for the food processor. Once thrown together, pesto can be used to flavor a variety of different foods, including sauces, sandwiches, and soups.
1/4 cup pine nuts, walnuts, or almonds (blanched)
3 medium garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves (don't substitute with dry)
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
In a small skillet, toast the nuts over low to medium heat until fragrant (4 to 5 minutes). Transfer the nuts to a plate to cool. In the same skillet, add the unpeeled garlic cloves and toast until fragrant (about 7 minutes). Transfer to a plate to cool, and then peel and coarsely chop.
Put the fresh basil and parsley into a heavy-duty plastic bag and pound with a rolling pin until the leaves are bruised. This will bring out the basil flavor just as a mortar and pestle would do.
Transfer the toasted nuts, chopped garlic, basil and parsley, oil, and salt in a food processor until smooth. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and season with salt to taste. If you don't plan on using the pesto immediately, transfer to a small container and cover with just enough olive oil to coat the surface. Wrap with plastic wrap.