I like to grow a big pot of basil (4-5 plants per pot) on my deck each year, and harvest it pretty aggressively all summer long to make batches of pesto sauce.
Harvesting it down to the lowest leaflets not only prevents the basil from flowering and bolting, but it allows it to essentially start over and produce crop after crop all the way until first frost.
Here is my pot of basil last week, in need of a hair cut:
And after harvesting...
( It takes only about 2 or 3 weeks before my basil pot fills out fully again).
To make a traditional pesto sauce, you need just a few things:
* About 3 bunches (or packages) of Fresh Basil, leaves removed and thick stems discarded.
*1/3 cup Olive Oil, more for a thinner sauce
*2 Fresh Garlic cloves, more or less to taste
*1/4 cup Pine Nuts or Walnuts
*Salt and Pepper
To make the sauce, toss your nuts and garlic into the food processor together, and pulse for a few seconds before adding the basil.
With the food processor running, begin adding the olive oil you reach desired consistency. Scrape down the sides as needed.
More oil=runnier pesto sauce. Less oil will give you more of a pesto paste, which is also SO DELICIOUS smeared onto a slice of crusty bread and topped with mozzarella and tomato.
Finally, add salt and pepper to taste, and your sauce is done. So simple, yet so, so delicious.
My boys eat this sauce by the spoonful right out of the food processor.
My favorite way to use pesto sauce is to toss it with cooked cavatappi pasta, some feta cheese and sun dried tomatoes. Occasionally, if I really want to go all out, I'll also add quartered artichokes, toasted pine nuts, calamata olives and sliced grape tomatoes to the pasta as well.
My kids are happy to eat it atop plain pasta, with some parmasean cheese sprinkled on.
I've found that pasta with pesto tastes best served at room temperature. This is a great summer dish to pack with you when you go to the pool for the day, or to a picnic, as it doesn't need to stay cold.
To me, fresh pesto sauce tastes like summertime!
Do you make your own pesto? Isn't it soooo much better than store-bought? What is your favorite way to enjoy this summer sauce?
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