Friday, June 13, 2014

Basic Basil Pesto

Fresh pesto is the epitome of summer goodness. After I made this batch, I sat by the window with the spatula and the bowl of my food processor and licked up every last drop while watching the birds visit my feeder. Every year I forget how amazing a simple pesto tastes, and every year I am reminded as I sample the first spoonful.
This year is special because I have my very own garden with three thriving basil plants, and I picked the basil right before I made this batch. A few words of advice: keep pesto simple. It's better when you stick with a basic recipe like this one because the simplicity is what makes it elegant. In the past, I have used half spinach and half basil, but that was only because I couldn't get my hands on enough basil to make a real batch. Splurge on good parmesan cheese and good olive oil, you can taste the difference. 
I am currently reading a book that is changing the way I think about food and cooking. It's called An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler, and every chapter is driving home the point that good food is often not fancy or fussy. It's simple and fresh and honest. She mentions making a batch of salsa verde first, and then finding inspiration to cook meat and vegetables to drench in that sauce. I'm going to do the same with this pesto this summer. I'll just make a big batch every week and see what follows!
Basic Basil Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 garlic cloves, peeled and quartered
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Blend the basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a food processor until nearly smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary. Drizzle the remaining olive oil into the mixture while processing until smooth.

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