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SUBMITTED BY: John Michael Lerma
2 ‘packed’ cups of fresh basil leaves, Genovese or Sicilian is recommended; I grow my own.
2 garlic gloves
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/8 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
¼ cups toasted pine nuts
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon Kosher or Hawaiian salt
Freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Distribute the pine nuts on a baking sheet and toast until golden in color, stirring once, about 10 minutes. Cool before mixing into pesto.
In food processor, pulse, basil, garlic, cheeses, pine nuts, and salt until finely chopped. With the food processor running, add olive oil in a slow steady stream until well blended. Pesto should be of an emulsified paste consistency. Season with pepper. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes for flavors to relax.
Toss with fresh or dried pasta, spread on toasted bread squares or crackers, or use in appetizers such as Pesto Cream Cheese Ball.
Time Saving Tip: I pick large quantities of fresh basil from my garden and replant half way through the season for a continued harvest. This allows me to process several batches of pesto which I place in ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, I release pesto from ice trays, vacuum pack, and freeze for later use. You can also use zip lock freezer bags. When you want fresh pesto, simply remove the desired amount and thaw for your recipe. One quick tip is to prepare fresh or dried pasta, drain, and add frozen pesto cubes. The heat from the drained pasta will thaw the pesto. Toss and serve for a delicious burst of summer garden flavor.
Variations: I grow many varieties of herbs in my garden and like to create distinctive pesto experiences. For Basil/Chive pesto, use 1 ½ cups of basil and ½ cup of chives. For Oregano pesto, 1 cup of Italian Oregano and 1 cup of Fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley. For Sage pesto, 1 cup of fresh sage and 1 cup of Flat-Leaf Parsley, For Rosemary pesto, 1 cup of fresh Rosemary leaves and 1 cup of fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley. You get the idea. Try your own combinations with other herbs such as French Tarragon, English Thyme, and so many other wonderful and aromatic herbs. Maggia!