May 28, 2020

What’s Cooking? Basil Pesto

By Lucy McCullough

Time for basil pesto

Fresh garlic is now available and basil is plentiful. There are so many awesome ways to enjoy pesto. Try it on a fresh tomato still warm from the garden, in salad dressings, appetizers, spread on toast or a grilled cheese sandwich. A little time preparing pesto now will be appreciated well into the winter months. Pesto can be refrigerated for a few days and freezes well. Freezing the pesto in ice cube trays and storing allows for quick thawing. Storing in larger ¼ cup portions in snack size baggies can be used on potatoes, veggies, pasta, pizza and my winter time favorite, pesto calzones.

Most pesto recipes use pine nuts, but I find walnuts to be more economical. Another nut option would be almonds. Parsley, cilantro, spinach, kale, arugula and garlic scapes may also be used to make pesto. Experiment with different options to find the ones you like best. Initially, I purchased a mini food processor with the desire to make pesto. I soon learned a mini wasn’t large enough for the amount of pesto I wanted to prepare. After making several batches to fill our needs, I did finally purchase a larger capacity processor. If you are using a mini food processor, you will need to divide this recipe in half.

Basil Pesto

(makes about 1 ½  cups)

In a food processor, add ½ cup walnuts and pulse five times. Set the nuts aside. Add 4-5 cloves of peeled garlic to the bowl and chop 5 seconds. Scrape the bowl. Add 3 cups of packed fresh basil leaves (washed and dried) and ¼ cup of olive oil. You may need to add half the basil at a time. Pulse a few times, then grind continuously for 15 seconds. Scrape the bowl. With the machine running on grind, drizzle in another ¼ cup of olive oil and grind until you reach a consistency you like. Add ¾ cup of parmesan cheese and the nuts. Pulse to blend. For the best flavors, let the pesto sit for at least 30 minutes before using.

Let’s eat!

Lucy McCullough and her husband, Jim, started Catamount Outdoor Family Center on the family farm in 1978 and have been operating Catamount’s B&B since 1996.