August 16, 2010
This is the season when my obsession with food preservation begins. Usually, by mid-August, I have strawberries and blueberries in the freezer, maybe some jam or preserves canned and I am thinking about finding piles of tomatoes to make into salsa and sauce. Since we've been in transition and are just now settling down I haven't stored any of the brilliant colors and intense flavors or summer for the colder, blander months.
Until today. As you can see above, I took a pile of deep green, fragrant leaves and forced them to mix, blend, and become one with ingredients that would complement them perfectly. Any protest at having to give up their individuality was drowned out by the sound of the food processor and if they didn't want to combine with pungent parmesan, toasty nuts, and smooth olive oil, they clearly did not know what was good for them. I've made, eaten, and frozen lots of batches of pesto but to my taste buds this one had the perfect ratio of basil, garlic, salt and oil.
We'll eat some on fresh pasta with ripe tomatoes. I'll probably spread some on bread for a snack. I've packed the pesto in wonderful little wide-mouth half pint jars. Each jar is exactly the right size for a batch and they will be perfect for keeping pesto in the freezer until the time that fresh basil is scarce. It's my treasure trove of garlicky green gold.
I am sure that I don't need to say much more about pesto. It's one of summer's many small delights. Enjoy!
4 cups of gently packed basil leaves
4-5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup toasted nuts (pine nuts, almonds, walnuts or none at all)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
I/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Place basil, garlic, Parmesan, and lemon juice in a food processor and whir until it makes a uniform paste, but you can still identify individual ingredients. With the food processor on, gradually pour in the oil until it is smooth and pureed to your liking. Season to taste. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for several weeks or the freezer for several months.