Basil Pesto

Serves 6 to 8

In my humble (Italian) opinion, pesto is probably one of the best-tasting ways to combine basil, garlic and olive oil (with some nuts to add a bit of heft). Pesto is easy to make, goes well with pasta, on pizza, in soups, and is a flavorful alternative to mayonnaise on a summer-inspired sandwich. The word pesto comes from the Italian word “pestare” which means “to crush” using the pestle and mortar.  If you’re pressed for time, or lazy (like me), you can use a hand-held mixer or Cuisinart which speeds up the process. Be sure to make a large batch as it freezes wonderfully and will keep your summer memories alive as you serve it in dishes in the fall and (if you’re lucky) through the winter.

1 large bunch of basil
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan or pecorino (or a combination thereof)
2 tablespoons roasted pine nuts (you can substitute walnuts or cashews here)
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup olive oil
A pinch of salt

Pick the basil leaves off the stems and clean them using a wet towel.  Try to avoid washing under lots of water.
Combine basil, pine nuts, garlic and salt in the bowl of a Cuisinart or with a handheld blender, and process until it forms a paste.
Add the olive oil and cheese, alternating a little of each at a time and stirring, until it forms a smooth creme.
Freeze any additional pesto and save for a rainy day.

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