Pesto. Is there anything as good, as rich, as satisfying? Pesto is the stuff of the gods, it is. And I can make it myself! Wait – I just did make it myself!
My basil plant was starting to flower. I needed to nip those buds off, but just one touch of the plant released the heavenly aroma that sparked a powerful desire for pesto. The plant wasn’t huge and I only have the one, so if I was going to make it, it would be small batch. That was okay, much safer than making (and therefore eating) a huge amount. Plus I didn’t have all the traditional ingredients, so I made it the way I almost always do: by considering the “real” recipe to be suggestion, not direction.
But hey – with pesto it’s not even possible to go wrong. Every ingredient is wonderful. Too much of one, not enough of another? No biggie!
Note: I read somewhere that using a mortar and pestle makes a better pesto than using a blender. Don’t know if that’s true but I can’t stand seeing even a teensy bit of finished product stuck under a blender blade instead of in my mouth. When it comes to foods of the gods, I’m not willing to give up even that much. And yes, I scrape the bowl and lick the pestle, too.
My simple recipe for a small batch of pesto
- A packed cup’s worth of fresh basil leaves, torn into little pieces
- A third cup or so of raw nuts (pine nuts are traditional, I only had walnuts and they worked just fine)
- A few tablespoons of olive oil, as much as is needed to get a nice consistency
- A scant tablespoon of lemon juice (I didn’t have any so I used lime juice and that worked fine)
- A good-sized clove of garlic, mashed
- Grated parmesan cheese to taste
- Smash the nuts up real well so there aren’t any large chunks anymore
- Add some olive oil, the lemon juice, and the garlic & mix to a nice paste
- Add the basil and work it into the paste. It’s going to take a bit of time but you should taste test it along the way because why not
- Add more olive oil if you want it gooier and keep working the paste till it’s really pasty
- When you are satisfied with the consistency, add some parmesan and mash it up into the paste with the pestle. I personally prefer only a few tablespoons but you do what you do.
Pesto is great on pasta, of course, but I love it even more spread on a slice of sourdough bread. Yum yum, I could gobble up all the pesto at once that way, but I try hard not to. Pesto might be the stuff of the gods, but ahem… did I mention how rich it is? Translation: DANGER! ABUNDANT CALORIES!
But also, pesto is good for you. Lotsa antioxidants, unsaturated fats that are heart-friendly, and because it’s so rich pesto takes longer to digest and thus you don’t feel the need to eat other less godly stuff.