I love the way basil grows, it looks so beautiful and bushy and smells wonderful. Every year, I plant a new one and watch it grow. My daughter uses it for her food, I use it as much as possible, but I hate to pick at it it since it's so pretty. Well, right now it's large and overgrown in the back yard. Today it was about 113 degrees out here in the desert, and this plant won't last much longer, even in the shade of the orange tree where it sits.
So if you have all that basil...we all know what that means... pesto! I grabbed a huge handful of leaves from the plant this afternoon and headed into the kitchen. Just the aroma of the leaves is intoxicating and I've said more than once that I would love a perfume with basil in it. It smells so sweet and earthy.
But, I digress. I gathered all my ingredients, most of which are always in the house such as garlic, olive oil, Romano cheese, salt, etc. But I was missing one of the key ingredients--pine nuts. I've read that some people make their pesto with walnuts, so I figured I'd use something else also.
All I could find was a bag of candied pecans from Trader Joe's. I know it sounds crazy, but I used them and it was so amazingly tasty. I'm going to use them from now one, that's how good it was. It gave the pesto a wonderful, sweet but tangy flavor. If you don't happen to have any candied pecans in the house, go ahead and try any kind of nut in the house.
Pesto has that wonderful versatility and can be used in so many ways. Over grilled veggies, over pasta (of course), on pizza, on toast (gf of course) and more. Go ahead and give this a try. And if you try anything different, let me know. I'm always looking to try something new.
This is the pesto on it's own. I just love the vibrant green color and the aroma is fantastic. I could just eat it with a spoon (and I do).
This is my pasta with the pesto and sun-dried tomatoes. Too yummy for words.
The only way to find out if something works is to give it a try. I've made a few mistakes, but I've also discovered some pretty great dishes too. I've put the recipe I used below, but go ahead and use more of less of anything to suit your taste. The recipe calls for one large clove of garlic, but if you like more, go for it. If you like less, I'd say just use one small, or just 1/2 of one. I like a lot of garlic and not so much cheese.
1 large cloves of garlic
2 TBS candied pecans (or pine nuts, walnuts, etc.)
1 tsp kosher salt
2 TBS shredded romano cheese
1 large handful of basil, (about 2 cups)
2-3 TBS olive oil
1. Put garlic, nuts and salt in food processor and blend.
2. Add basil and cheese, then blend a few pulses to get all the basil blended.
3. Add olive oil slowly to get the consistency you like. You may not need to use all the oil, or you may need more. I like mine pretty thick.
4. Done! It's that simple.
To serve with pasta, just add pesto to cooked pasta and stir. I added a few sun-dried tomatoes in the pasta water for the last 2 minutes to soften them up, then mixed them all together with the pesto. Yum. You can add a little more shredded cheese if you like.