O, Basil Where Art Thou?

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I. Love. Pesto. My love affair with pesto began rather late in life at my Alma Mater, University of Maryland, in the South Campus Dining Hall. They say college is a time for experimentation and prior to this time in my life, I was a mildly picky eater. One day at the “Make Your Own Pasta” station, I felt a little adventurous- I tried this green goo on my penne instead of my standard marinara. Game over. It was delicious. I didn’t know what it was made of, but I was hooked. Move over marinara, pesto is now my number one!

Now that I’ve become more adept in the kitchen, my passion for pesto is still strong. Early on, I would buy pre-made pesto. It tastes delicious, but it’s rather expensive for a jar that’s pretty small. For less than a cup, I was paying four dollars or more. This just would not do and so my pilgrimage for the Perfect Pesto began.

After doing some research and scoping out recipes, I began refining my pesto making skills. There was only one problem- finding large quantities of basil. One day, I was on my weekly grocery run prepared to make pesto for a delicious Salmon in Foil dish. On prior grocery trips, I had managed to find a 4-ounce box of fresh basil leaves at a reasonable price. It’s perfection. Just enough to make massive quantities of that delicious emerald paste I adore. Naturally, I planned to get the same box at my local Wegmans. I sauntered over to the fresh herb section and to my dismay, nothing. It was ALL gone. Even the smaller packages of basil were sold out. Perhaps this was a “happening time” for basil based foods in my area, which was peculiar. No big deal. I would check another grocery store that was out of the way (le sigh) but should have the quantity of basil I need.

My already large haul of groceries packed away in my trunk, I drove to a Harris Teeter. I’m unfamiliar with this particular store, but all grocery stores are basically the same, right? WRONG! Like a mouse in a maze, I scoured the produce section looking for any basil I could find.  On my 4th lap, I found one lone package of basil leaves. The catch- it was less than an ounce (.75 oz) of basil which wasn’t going to be enough. The search continued.

Frustrated, I made one last ditch effort to find some basil. My groceries still stashed away in my trunk, I stormed into Shoppers on a mission! Familiar with this store’s produce section, I immediately see that if I want to make this pesto, more than a pretty penny would be spent. Shoppers had basil leaves in stock, alright, but only in the .75 ounce packs. If I wanted to make this pesto, it was going to cost me far more money than I intended.

Making my way out of the store, discouraged and disappointed that my pesto plans would be on hold for the time being, I glanced back at a display of avocados and tomatoes. Like a dehydrated pilgrim seeing a sparkling cool oasis in a desert, I couldn’t believe my eyes! On the display, nestled in a corner were two, 4-ounce packages of basil! Hallelujah! Literally skipping with joy over to the basil, I snatched one of the packages and proceeded to the self-check out. Perfect Pesto, here I come!

Suddenly something came over me. I needed that second package of basil. My love for pesto was too strong. I could double my recipe and freeze the remaining pesto! I spun around, grabbed the last box of basil, checked out, and was on my merry way with all of the basil to make ALL of the pesto.

I have learned how to make pesto with other greens like spinach, which taste great too but basil pesto will always be my favorite. Now, however, I have been graciously gifted my very own basil (and thyme) plants to avoid future dismay when there’s an apparent local basil shortage.

 

Basil Pesto is super easy to make and tastes amazing on pasta, fish, chicken, anything really. If you’ve never tried pesto, give it a shot and I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Perfect Basil Pesto

What You Need:

DSC_0275

  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 5 or 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions:
Click here to Cook With Me!

  • Place basil leaves and pine nuts into a food processor.
  • Pulse until finely chopped.
  • Add garlic, parmesan, salt, and pepper to the food processor.
  • Chop and pulse the food processor until the mixed ingredients have the consistency of a thick paste. This may take 6 or more pulses to reach this consistency.
  • With the food processor still running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube. Completely combine the oil with the course paste until smooth.
  • Voila, pesto! Combine and enjoy with your favorite dish or store in an airtight container for up to a week.
  • To save for another time, you can freeze your pesto in a tightly sealed mason jar. This will keep the pesto fresh for 9-12 months!

Cook With Me:

  • Place basil leaves, and pine nuts into a food processor. Some put all ingredients in at the same, but I like to make sure everything is finely chopped.DSC_0278
  • Pulse until finely chopped.
  • Add garlic, parmesan, salt, and pepper to the food processor.DSC_0283
  • Chop and pulse the food processor until the mixed ingredients have the consistency of a thick paste. This may take 6 or more pulses to reach this consistency. DSC_0286
  • With the food processor still running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube. Completely combine the oil with the course paste until smooth.dsc_0288.jpg
  • Voila, pesto! Combine and enjoy with your favorite dish or store in an airtight container for up to a week.

To save for another time, you can freeze your pesto in a tightly sealed mason jar. This will keep the pesto fresh for months!DSC_0292

Give this pesto a try! Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

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