Homemade Pesto: What happens with an overgrown herb garden

21 Sep

I’ve had a pretty crazy week. I started a new job, and I’ve been helping my mom down at work, so my free time has been minimal. Let’s not even talk about how TV season is back, and I somehow became one of those people who watches 10 shows every week. I blame Netflix. So when I have free time, I am a total couch potato. However, the herb garden out back has been screaming at me all week to do something with it. The basil was saying, “Sarah! It’s getting so cold at night! There’s so much of me, and I’m going to diiie!” In response, I ripped all that basil’s leaves off and made it into pesto. Yum. That’ll show you for whining, basil. I’ve never made pesto before, but it was surprisingly easy and really delicious.

I used a recipe that you can find here. I searched a bunch of different recipes, but this one looked the best (and most authentic). You will need:

  • 3 c. fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/4 c. pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 c. grated pecorino romano cheese
  • 3/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
  • 6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

If you don’t want to bother using two types of cheese, I imagine you can use all parmesan. But I liked the idea of mixing the two because the pecorino romano has a much milder flavor than the parmesan. I also splurged and bought legit Parmigiano-Reggiano. If you love cheese, you should consider doing the same. If you can’t tell the difference between the parmesan in that green bottle and real parmesan (do those people exist?), then don’t buy the really expensive one. Obviously.

The first thing I did after picking the basil was wash and dry it as I would lettuce for a salad. I’m not sure if this is something you absolutely need to do, but I have a cat and a dog, and I suspect that they’ve peed on this basil at least once each. Is it gross that I still find it acceptable to eat after just a quick washing? Probably.

The first step in the chopping process is to take the cloves of garlic, the basil and the kosher salt, and put it in your food processor. Let it run until the basil is all chopped up. I had to put my basil in in batches because the food processor I used is rather small, but everything will all fit as long as you have a food processor that holds at least 1 1/2 cups.

The second step is to take the pine nuts (not pictured), and run it until the mixture is well combined again. Next take all that delicious cheese, and add it to the mixture. Pulse until it’s incorporated.

Now comes the part where it really starts to look like pesto rather than a bowl of chopped spinach. Add the extra virgin olive oil two tablespoons at a time, mixing well between each addition. When you’ve used six tablespoons or when you’re satisfied with the texture, you’re done! Use immediately or store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for a week or so. Pesto can also be frozen in ice cube trays and later reheated in a pan on the stove. I still have no idea what I’m actually going to use my shiny new pesto for, so if you’ve got suggestions, I want them. All of them.

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