Our herb garden has really taken off and the basil especially! I was so pleased with the fragrant plant, I made my mom's pesto for potato gnocchi one night and some cream cheese dip as well. There's only so much pesto a girl can handle, though! I was told basil freezes really well when fresh; put into snack sized zip top baggies and suck the air out with a straw. Freeze until needed. Take out and chop while still frozen and add to your favorite homemade sauce. I am looking forward to that fresh grown flavor in the winter now!
This pesto is like none I’ve ever had. It's packed with flavors of fresh basil and garlic; in my mom's house it's often mixed with cream cheese for a spread, but can be used as a delicious topping for pasta and broiled salmon. If you have a food processor it is incredibly simple and quick to make. The processor insures the oil is fully incorporated and all the basil and nuts are a uniform size. Only make what you will use within the week; if you aren't mixing it with the cream cheese, it will start to turn brown, losing that vibrant green color.
Basil & Pine Nut Pesto
- about 2 cups of fresh basil leaves
- 2 large garlic cloves (less if you don't like it too spicy)
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
- sea salt, add to taste
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened (optional)
In a food processor, pulse together the basil, pine nuts and garlic. While processor is on, SLOWLY add olive oil until well combined, scraping down sides as needed. Add the grated Parmesan and pulse until combined. Taste and add salt if needed. This can be used alone over hot pasta (use some reserved cooking water to thin it out if needed), in a cream sauce or combine it with the cream cheese (in the processor) for a spread or dip.