Herbs have been making their way into the kitchen in fistfuls and basketfuls over the past several weeks. My first batch of oregano has been dried, crushed, and stored away for the months ahead. A small batch of thyme is now ready to crush and put in a jar and a bit of peppermint is now hanging in the kitchen window. Finally my basil plants were ready this week to cut back for my first batch of pesto. I love to make pesto a few times during the summer, freeze it in ice cube trays, and then move it into containers in the freezer. I've found that ice cube-sized pesto is the perfect amount to add to any recipe. It's just the right amount for my favorite grilled pesto, provolone, and red pepper sandwich and just a few cubes are needed for a batch of pasta or gnocchi for a dinner for two.
There are so very many pesto recipes out there, and mine is nothing new or revolutionary. However, I do like to use walnuts instead of pine nuts in my version. I like the darker nutty flavor that walnuts give the pesto and they are also cheaper, which is a great bonus. I also usually have walnuts on hand, whereas pine nuts I do not. So, if you're looking for a new recipe to try...here you go! Most pesto recipes call for parmesan, but since I freeze mine, I don't add any parmesan to the pesto. Instead, I usually add parmesan, or another type of cheese, to the dish that I'm adding the pesto to. I find that this just works better for the way I cook and simplifies what's needed to make the pesto, which I'm all about.
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon lemon juice (fresh or bottled, but fresh is preferred)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Add the walnuts and olive oil to a blender or food processor and blend until mostly smooth. Add the garlic and blend until smooth. Add the basil leaves, small amounts may be necessary depending on your blender/food processor. Add the lemon juice and salt. Processor until it reaches your preferred consistency. I tend to leave mine a bit chunky. Fill an ice cube tray with the pesto. One batch should fill one ice cube tray (in the picture above I reserved a bit for my dinner that night so it didn't quite fill a tray). Freeze until solid and then transfer into a freezer container or bag. Keep in your freezer for up to a year and use as you need it!
How about you?? Do you have a favorite basil pesto or other herb pestos that you love?? I'd love to hear about them!