Back in October I wrote a post about my having to purchase my basil from the grocery store (insert dramatic pause here, while I await your very audible gasp). No, I'm really not that hoity-toity. There's nothing wrong with buying fresh basil wherever you can find it. My reason for this post, is to say that this Summer I found a spot in my flower bed to stick a basil plant and I am so glad I did. It's uh, quite prolific.
I was talking to one of my fabulous sisters yesterday and she was telling me how great her basil plant was doing also. She needed some new ideas on how to use all of that basil and I figured others out there might need some suggestions as well. So I'm sharing my recipe for Basil Pesto along with a list (with links) of some of my favorite recipes that call for basil. (scroll down for list of recipes)
about 2 cups of packed fresh basil leaves - no stems
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts **
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Lightly toast pine nuts in a dry pan over medium low heat (optional**). Add pine nuts, basil, garlic, cheese, and 1-2 Tablespoons of the olive oil to a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the remaining olive oil until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.
**Toasting the pine nuts is completely optional. My husband cannot eat raw pine nuts, but if I lightly toast them, he's fine. Here's another pine nut tip: In the past I've been able to find nice large bags of pine nuts at Costco for a great price. Buy those, and keep them in your freezer - they'll last a LOT longer. Pine nuts tend to go rancid quite quickly, and no one likes to toss those adorable little golden nuggets in the trash.
Some of my favorite recipes using basil:
Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Orzo
Fresh Pasta Primavera
Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad
Pesto Chicken Florentine