My sister, Grace, loves cooking gadgets. She owns the most impressive collection of kitchen gadgets on the East coast. I also admire the fact that she is so knowledgeable about how they work and uses every single one of them all the time. None of them collect dust. She lives in New England and I live in Florida, and we usually share a wonderful chat together on our cell phones as we both drive home from work on Thursday afternoons. Yesterday, she excitedly told me all about the newest gadget in her life, that is, the Cuisinart Mini Prep Food Processor. She said she had a copious crop of basil growing in her garden and made a batch of pesto using the new processor. She said it came out just delicious and the performance of the mini prep was more than she expected. Grace said she loved the color too, black chrome with a black wire. White appliance wires can look so dingy after awhile. I hung up with her and could not stop thinking about pesto!
Just the day before my sister’s call, I chatted with my dear and wonderful friend, Agi. She moved into her new home and planted purple basil. It is quite beautiful and has suprisingly it has given her a prolific crop. She asked me for my pesto recipe. It seems like everyone has pesto on their mind this week.
Both Grace and Agi have inspired me to share with you my pesto recipe that I have made for over thirty years. Pesto originated in Genoa and the classic way to prepare it is with a mortar and pestle. Pesto literally means “pounded.” But of course, we are all to busy these days for such nonsense, so grab your blender or processor (or you may want to check out the new Cuisinart Mini Prep), and whirl up some delicious pesto to share with family and friends.
Fresh Basil Pesto
2 overflowing cups fresh basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup pine nuts (or some prefer walnuts, or use half and half)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine basil, garlic, salt and pepper in work bowl of processor and blend to fine paste, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Add pine nuts and cheese and process until smooth. With machine running, pour olive oil through feed tube in slow steady stream and mix until almost smooth. If it is too thick, you can add a little bit more olive oil. If you choose to use a blender, put all ingredients into blender except olive oil and pulse chop until it almost paste, then with machine running pour olive oil into mixture through opening in blender top.
Boil your favorite pasta and reserve about a cup of cooking water. Mix your pasta with a lump of butter before adding the pesto. Loosen up the pasta and pesto with some reserved pasta water.
We like this on Tinkyada fettucini with some freshly diced plum tomatoes sprinkled on top. Enjoy!
Pesto tip: When storing pesto in the refrigerator or freezer, add a film of olive oil about 1/8 inch thick to the top to prevent sauce from drying out. Mix it in when ready to use. Always bring chilled pesto to room temperature before serving.
Afterthought: When I used to lived up North, I remember hanging on to the skirts of summer’s fresh bounty. My back yard and every friend’s backyard as well as every farm stand would boast the huge bouquets of fragrant sweet basil. It is surely one of nature’s most precious gifts, and pesto is undoubtably one of the best ways to enjoy its goodness.