Pesto al Best-o

19 Jul


Summer, I love you. Even though you’re hot, sweaty, buggy and riddled with deadly sunshine, you make basil possible. Even when it’s my black thumb trying to grow the stuff. Now that the plants are all bushy and sweet-smelling, I’ve started to harvest bunches of the stuff for daily cooking.

I grew that, can you fricking believe it? Go me! That’s how much basil fits (loosely) in one of those paper sacks you used to take your lunch to school. This is one of those rare times I wish the internet had smell-o-vision, man. Sweet, spicy, sunny basil. Yum.

Garlic, pine nuts and romano cheese. It’s like a beige-y foodgasm.

Crush garlic with the flat side of your knife. It makes the cloves way easier to peel.

Rinse your basil and put it on a cutting board, unless you’re fortunate enough to possess a nice food processor. A mortar and pestle is a more traditional way of doing it, I hear, but I don’t have one of those. I have a blender, and I didn’t really want to make green soup.

…at least, I didn’t until I started chopping.

I chopped…

…and chopped some more. Green soup was starting to sound pretty appealing.

10-15 minutes later I said “screw this” and decided it was fine enough, thank you very much. Then I grated the cheese.

…and chopped some more.

Extra virgin olive oil, you ain’t foolin’ anyone.

If you could smell this, you’d be impatient trying to chop it up by hand, too.

Cook your favorite pasta (in this case, “favorite” meaning “the last box left in the pantry”) in salted water. The salt helps flavor the pasta, so add plenty of it.

Reserve a bit of the pasta water, in case you need to add some to the dish. While the pasta boiled, I saved some of the pesto itself in a tightly sealed container in the fridge and used it through the next week, adding it to sauces and mixing it with mayonnaise for sandwiches, or with butter for a super garlic bread.

When the pasta is al dente, toss gently with pesto and eat.

I love adding green peas to the pasta water a minute or two before it finishes cooking. The sweetness of the peas goes great with the salty, herby-sweet spice of the pesto. It’s delicious and very forgiving, too. Don’t sweat the quantities, just add a little of everything and bulk up on your favorite ingredients.




2 Responses to “Pesto al Best-o”

  1. Caulle July 19, 2011 at 11:05 pm #

    This looks awesome, but do you have a breakdown on how much of the ingredients you used? I’ve never made my own Pesto before, but we just ran out of it the other day. Grilled chicken on Pesto pasta is just about my husbands favourite dish (and crazy easy to make during the work week) so I might try making my own Pesto for him next time.

    • Bika July 20, 2011 at 12:57 am #

      I never really know how to measure basil for pesto…I just fill up a colander with what I have and eyeball the rest. I can try to give you an idea of what I used for this batch, though!

      There was that big bowl of basil to start with. (I think if you loosely packed it in measuring cups there’d be about four cups.)

      Aside from that, I used 4 cloves of garlic because I like it, a double handful (1/3 cup) of pine nuts, and about 3/4 cup of grated romano cheese. Olive oil’s kinda tricky, since I just added it till it looked good. Start with 1/4 cup and add more from there.

      The cheese will provide most, if not all of the salt the pesto needs, just taste it to be sure.

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