I've mentioned before that I love Mark Bittman, author of How To Cook Everything and the Bitten blog on the NYT website. I use his recipe for pesto because I don't like how much garlic some other recipes I've tried have. Now, I love garlic, but for pesto I want it in the background so the basil can shine!
Pesto is great served over pasta (thin with a bit of pasta cooking water), spread on chicken, or mixed into mayonnaise and served on a sandwich. You can also freeze it - just leave out the cheese until you serve it. If you don't cover it with a thin layer of olive oil before freezing, it won't be as vibrantly green, but it will still taste great.
Next time I make it, I'll add a picture to the post. Oh, by the way - I've tried the butter variation mentioned at the end: wicked.
Pesto (Mark Bittman)
Makes about 1 cup
Time: 5 – 15 minutes
2 loosely packed cups fresh basil leaves, big stems discarded, rinsed and dried
Salt to taste
½ to 1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts, lightly toasted in a dry skillet
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, or more
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan or other hard cheese
(1) Combine the basil, salt, garlic, nuts and about half the oil in a food processor or blender (or mortar and pestle).
(2) Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container occasionally, and adding the rest of the oil gradually. Add additional oil if you prefer a thinner mixture. Store in the refrigerator for a week or two, or in the freezer for several months (omit next step/cheese if freezing – and drizzle top with oil to preserve). Stir in the parmesan by hand just before serving.
Pesto with butter: For really special pesto, stir in 2 tablespoons softened butter just before tossing with lean foods such as pasta.