When my garden gives me basil, I spend the afternoon making pesto. It is amazing to me how much basil resulted from three little nursery plants. It is also amazing to me how all this basil, once it is picked from the stems, cleaned and processed, only created five recipes of homemade pesto. (That's ten full cups of fresh basil leaves)
Basic Pesto ~ Adapted from Marcella Hazen
2 tightly packed cups of fresh basil leaves
2 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled (I use about 6 cloves for my family)
3 tablespoons pine nuts
A generous pinch of salt
Grind these ingredients in a mortar and pestle (where the name pesto derives) or pulse quickly in a food processor.
To this add 3-4 tablespoons olive oil, mixing together well.
*at this point you can freeze the pesto OR continue with the next ingredients*
Now add 2 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter and ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Now you have a pretty authentic pesto to toss with pasta, serve on slices of thick homemade bread, add to a salad – whatever your imagination can conceive, pesto will deliver.
I thawed one portion of pesto, added the softened butter and grated parmesean, then roasted three chicken breasts with half of this fully prepared pesto. I used half of the pesto roasted chicken for tonight's pasta and chicken with pesto cream sauce.
This dish was a cross between an Italian favorite and homemade mac -n- cheese. It was completely delicious, even the youngest ate a second serving. As for the leftovers, the teenage crew ate everything that remained.