Do you have a garden brimming with basil? If so, lucky you! (Also, nice work — what else are you growing? I miss my container garden, can you tell?) Even if you don’t, a bunch of the herb won’t cost you more than a few bucks at the market — and then you can easily whip together your very own homemade pesto free of the huh?-why?-inducing ingredients that some of the jarred varieties include. (Potatoes, Trader Joe’s? Really? REALLY? I get tossing pesto with boiled potatoes, but as an ingredients in the pesto itself? Does.Not.Compute.) I’ve tried over and over to come up with a recipe that avoids both nuts and cheese, but it ends up being too pungent for my delicate sensibilities (hah!). But really, the two together add a nice balance, considerably mellowing the anise tones of the basil and garlic’s spiciness. Plus, they do a little sumpin’ sumpin’ for the texture.
If you have any pesto-making secrets you’re willing to spill, have at it in the comments — I love learning from you guys, too! And if your favorite recipe for the sauce includes potatoes I will wholeheartedly eat my words and wear the “cone of shame” — well, ok, I’ll don a dunce cap — for a full day. Don’t believe me? Hit me up on FaceTime and find out!
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Makes: About 1/2 cup
- 1/2 ounce (about 1 tablespoon) smashed and peeled garlic cloves
- 1/2 ounce (about 1 tablespoon chopped or 5 halves) whole or chopped walnuts
- 1 1/2 ounces (about 1 cup, lightly packed) sweet basil leaves
- 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) olive oil
- 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon, packed) finely shredded Parmesan cheese
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with blade attachment, combine garlic and walnuts. Cover and run until finely chopped. Scrape down bowl, pack in basil and run until roughly chopped. Through feeder tube, slowly pour in olive oil; run machine, scraping down bowl as needed, until it becomes a finely textured paste. Scrape down bowl, add cheese, cover and run until blended and thick. Season to taste with Kosher salt and black pepper (I like no more than 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Transfer to a jar or bowl, cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to use.