basil pesto … I can tell it’s time to start some indoor gardening

It’s Jeanne.

I’ve been taking a Master Gardening class through Montana State these past few weeks.  Which has really gotten me excited to begin plans for our 2013 garden.

Drawing diagrams.

Ordering seeds.

Checking and double-checking the calendar to make sure I get the seeds planted in time.

Dreaming of the greens and reds and blooms of spring and summer.

And watching the snow fall all over our raised beds.

Then dreaming again as I wander through the produce section of the grocery store … finding a big bunch of basil … and knowing that’s exactly what will cure my wintertime blues …

A little insight into pesto … everyone likes it their own way.  Some people like it it with kale.  Or spinach.  Or with less garlic.  Or more salt.  Or they use Asiago Cheese instead of Parmesan or Pecorino.    And I know I don’t add enough olive oil for some people.  But that’s because I like it less liquid-y.  Some people don’t toast their pine nuts.  For me … the extra two minutes it takes to toast those little nuggets makes all the difference in the world.  And the wonderful news is, you can make your pesto however you like it

Here’s how I do it.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 big bunch of basil (I used the leaves from 10-12 stalks for this batch)
  • 3/4 cup of pine nuts (toasted)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese (shredded)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or more, depending on consistency you like)

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DIRECTIONS:

Toast your pine nuts … the easiest way to do this is to heat up a 12-inch saucepan until it’s nice and hot.  (To check the heat, sprinkle a tiny bit of water on your pan and if it sizzles and evaporates on contact, your pan is hot enough … wipe up an extra water before you add your pine nuts).  Add the pine nuts to the hot pan and start stirring (I use a wooden spoon … you could also just shake your pan … these babies toast really quickly, and you want to be careful not to burn them, so keep the nuts moving … for about a minute or 90 seconds.  You’ll know their toasted when they’re golden and you start to smell them.)

Now that the nuts are toasted, add all the ingredients to a food processor.  Pulse 10-12 times, until basil is finely minced and ingredients well-combined.  Makes about 1 1/2 cups of pesto.

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I like this semi-dry pesto on sandwiches and mixed with pasta.  

NOTE: I add a little more olive oil (and by a little more olive oil, I mean I add nearly twice as much olive oil) to use it as a dip for crispy pita chips, or for veggies, or if  I’m making a “green pizza,” which I did last night.

green pizza

Notice how much “saucier” the pesto is now?  I took 3/4 cup of the pre-made pesto and added 2 extra tablespoons of olive oil and it was the perfect texture and perfect amount for a 10″x 14″ thin crust pizza

How do you use your pesto?

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