Fresh basil is absolutely wonderful by itself, but when it's in season I love to buy big bunches of it and make homemade pesto. I'll make large batches and freeze them in small plastic containers to use whenever I feel like spicing up a regular recipe. Here's some of my favorite ways to use pesto:
- Mix equal parts mayo and pesto for a zesty sandwich topping.
- Toss spinach leaves and assorted veggies in a mixture of pesto and a little extra parm for a light side dish.
- Spread pesto over toasted bread and top with a slice of garden fresh tomatoes (heirloom is wonderful) and a little salt and pepper
- Serve as a sauce over simple grilled chicken breast.
The possiblities are endless! Give my favorite pesto recipe below a try. I promise that you'll love using it to give your regular meals a boost!
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pine nuts**
3 Tbsp chopped garlic (about 9 cloves)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Place the walnuts, pine nuts, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.
** If you can't find pine nuts or if they are too expensive, I've used all walnuts before.