Basil Pesto

When I was a kid, the end of summer was always bittersweet. Camp was ending, and soon the excitement of color war would be replaced by the uncertainty of a new school year.

Pesto was the silver lining that kept my spirits up on the long bus ride home from camp, knowing soon I’d be out in my parents’ garden with a colander and a pair of scissors, getting ready to fire up the food processor. Pasta was always my favorite food, and pesto its greatest application.

Once back from the garden, there wasn’t anything left to do but blend everything together in a food processor. The key step was the addition of the olive oil, which had to be added very slowly through the feed tube while the food processor was on, so that the sauce would emulsify.

Basil Pesto

Basil in my garden

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
3 garlic cloves
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Cut the Parmesan cheese into chunks and toss it in the food processor. Pulse until it is coarsely grated.

2. Add the basil to the food processor and pulse a few times, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula if needed. Finely chop the garlic and add it to the food processor with the pine nuts. Season with a pinch of salt and some cracked black pepper and pulse to combine.

3. With the food processor on, very slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube in a steady, thin stream until it has all been incorporated. 

4. To serve with pasta, add a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to the amount of pesto you want to use and mix to produce a smooth sauce.

Total time: 15 minutes
Makes 4-6 servings

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  • Delicious. What a great memory. I think my comforting memory would be apple cider doughnuts since I grew up near an apple orchard. Pesto is just wonderful though.

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