If you watched my Very First (!) Lunch At The Shop Facebook Live (sorry, that’s a lot of caps), you know I’m currently all about basil pesto. I heart pestos of all kinds, but when my shy little basil plant suddenly bloomed into a bush, I started craving straight up basil pesto. It’s one of the real Tastes of Summer, and an easy way to make almost anything — from scrambled eggs to pea soup — taste amazing. And you can make it in about 5 minutes flat.
A few things about pestos in general:
- The formula is always roughly the same (see below).
- The only truly necessary elements are herbs, garlic, salt and oil. Nuts and cheese are optional.
- I add Parmesan and extra-virgin olive oil only at the time of using the pesto. This way I get the most flavour punch out of these pricier, more nuanced ingredients.
- Most pestos keep for about a week in the fridge, but last for months and months in the freezer.
This isn’t really a recipe, it’s more of a guide. Because your herbs will be different in flavour, strength, oomph etc, you’ll need to reply on good old Mr Tongue to lead you to pesto heaven. If it doesn’t taste yummy enough, add salt. Still not blowing your mind? Add lemon or lime juice.
This is a concentrated recipe. Dilute it when using! Add pasta cooking water (or regular water) or olive oil or ricotta or chicken broth.
- 4 to 5 cups (loosely packed) fresh basil
- 1 cup toasted walnuts
- ⅔ cup canola oil (or other neutral oil)
- 2 small garlic cloves
- ¼ teaspoon table salt (plus more as needed)
- 1 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Wash and dry the basil.
- Combine walnuts, oil, garlic, salt and basil in a blender or food processor. Puree until smoothly chunky. Taste and add more salt and lemon juice if required.
- Transfer to a mason jar and carefully pour a layer of canola oil to cover the top (this prevents the pesto from turning brown). Store in the fridge up to 7 days.
- To use, add a spoonful of pesto to whatever and dilute with some thing while stirring. Season generously with freshly grated parmesan and extra-virgin olive oil. So, for example, if adding to pasta, add a spoonful to the cooked pasta (in a large pot or bowl) and add ¼ to ½ cup of the hot pasta cooking water. Then add parmesan and extra virgin olive oil. Yum.