First Pesto!

Fresh pesto is one of my favorite summer staples. Although spring’s basil is a little bitter, impatience got the best of me and I just had to make up a batch!

I have the small Cuisinart 4-cup food processor below. Although you admittedly will have to work in batches, it does just fine. If you have a full size processor certainly use it.

Like most all-time favorite recipes, I do not measure any of the ingredients while I make my pesto. Maybe at some point this summer I’ll take the time to measure everything out but for now these are all absolute guess-timates!

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 cups fresh basil
  • Lots of olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Essential Tool: Silicone Spatula

Start with your garlic cloves in the processor, give them a good whirl until diced then use your spatula to wipe down the sides (try to wipe down the sides of the bowl after each round). Next add 1/4 cup pine nuts and give it another whirl. The pine nut and garlic combination should look like it’s on it’s way to becoming a paste. This is where my sketchy measuring starts – add a swirl of olive oil to your processor, about 2-3 Tbs for this first one, 2 Tbs per swirl moving forward. Your mixer should look like this:

Next, add your fresh basil in 3-4 increments of about 1 cup each. Although it may seem like a pain adding the basil incrementally I promise it really will save you frustration down the line. Because you’re asking this little processor to work very hard you need to make sure the bowl isn’t too packed so the ingredients can combine easily. Between rounds of basil add another 2 swirls of olive oil. You’ll see it’s needed to keep your pesto smooth and your processor working as it should.

The last step is to add Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. This is also when you’ll judge if any additional olive oil is needed, although try to default to less becuase you can always add but can’t ever take away!

This recipe will make 1 cup of pesto, which I keep covered in the fridge for about a week. The garlic does admittedly come through a little heavy handed, so feel free to only use 2 cloves. Alternatively, I knew that I would mostly be heating this pesto and eating it warm, which mellows the garlic significantly. So, when deciding how much to use, keep in mind if you will be primarily eating it raw or warm before you make your garlic judgment.

Speaking of cooking with pesto – your options are nearly endless! Here are just a few of the ways that I used this batch of pesto. While all are pretty standard, consider more inventive uses such as in paninis or wraps (or any sandwich), as a base for hors devours (think bruschetta) or even as a marinade/rub!

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