When your neighbor shows up with a basil plant the size of a small child, is making pesto even an actual choice?
Pesto is one of my favorite sauces, and I love me some sauces. I’m the girl at the table on Thanksgiving harboring a gravy boat all to herself, so I’m something of an expert. I love pesto because it’s just undeniably bright and refreshing, if that’s something that a sauce can be (which I firmly believe it is). The bright green color, the lemony zip in the background, the garlicky tang…it’s just the perfect spring and summer topping for everything from zoodles (my current fave) to bruschetta to pizza. The recipe below is my absolute favorite pesto recipe and it comes out perfect every single time. It’s pretty traditional, aside from the fact that I subbed walnuts for pine nuts for a very specific and culinary-based reason: I did not have any pine nuts in the cupboard, but I had plenty of walnuts. Here’s how to make a batch of this beautiful, tasty sauce.
5 cups loosely packed basil (just pull the leaves from the stems and set them in the measuring cup to meausre, don’t smush ’em)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
3 large cloves garlic, halved
Juice from half lemon
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Place all ingredients from the basil through the pepper into a blender or food processor. Blend or pulse until the basil and garlic are finely chopped.
Add the oil and blend until the pesto is smooth with very fine chunks.
Add the cheese and pulse to combine.
Refrigerate overnight to maximize flavor.
Yield: 1 cup of sauce
Serving Size: 1/4 cup
Calories: approx. 330 calories per serving
Dietary Info: Vegetarian. Gluten Free.
◊ To cook the zoodle pasta, as shown in the picture for this post, simply add store bought or homemade zoodles (I make my own and budget two zucchini per person) to a deep sided pan with 3 tbsp olive oil and a tsp each of Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Saute the zoodles for about 10 minutes, until they are tender. They’ll render a good amount of water throughout the cooking process, so don’t worry if it seems like your olive oil has disappeared. Add salt and pepper to taste (I use Maldon sea salt for this recipe) and garnish with a sprinkle of chopped walnuts, Parmesan cheese and crushed red peppers. I also threw in some pulled rotisserie chicken breast from the grocery store. So easy. So friggin’ good.