July 23, 2010

Antipasto Fridays: Basil Pesto

We started Antipasto Fridays as a low-cook, snacky way to herald the coming of the weekend. This series introduces small plate favorites during the week so it may grace your own weekend opening ceremonies.
This is one dip you have permission to make a meal of. There is nothing quicker than mashing up a pile of basil leaves into a brilliant green spread. 


I always grow a few potted basil plants, but they hate the really extreme heat. It's like they are trying to escape their pots, bolting out into flowers and turning to seed. Once this happens, the leaves turn sharp and bitter tasting. It's been so bad this year, I had to rip them all out and go back to buying it at the farmers market. My recommendation: always break and sniff a leaf before purchase, and avoid basil that smells strongly of cinnamon.


As with most of our recipes here on Whisk Away, you have the option to go with the fancy equipment (in this case, a food processor) or stick with the more everyday items (in this case, a mortar and pestle or bowl + blunt object combo of your choice). Either way, you will have fragrant dip for dinner in under five minutes.


Basil Pesto
Makes 1 cup

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
2-3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Mash or pulse together the basil, pine nuts, and garlic. No need to pre-chop anything that is going into a food processor, but definitely mince the garlic and basil first if using a mortar and pestle.

2. Slowly add the olive oil, stopping to scrape down the sides of the food processor or bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse or stir until just blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Serve with toasted baguette slices, cheeses, and white wine.

2 comments:

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M. said...

yum! there in nothing like fresh pesto!