There is absolutely nothing wrong with store-bought pesto. I buy it all the time. However, when there is fresh basil on hand and I have ten minutes to spare (oh wait, that last part would be ANY time), there is nothing like the taste of homemade pesto. We (and by we I mean I) grow basil outdoors in the summer, but when I stumbled upon that huge pot of basil last week at Whole Foods, I knew pesto would be in our future.
I use a slight variation on the recipe from my favorite (next to Debbie) Italian cook:
The directions that follow are for a single batch, but I doubled it so if it looks like I can't measure, that's the reason. I have tried making this in the blender as the recipe says, but my food processor works so much better.
First, start with 2 cups of packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup toasted (or not - I don't toast) pine nuts. (Show of hands - who has these Tupperware measuring cups?)
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper (is there any other kind?)
Put all the above ingredients in your food processor (or blender) and pulse until finely chopped.
While the blender is still running, slowly add about 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (remember, I am doubling the recipe)
and blend until a smooth, thick consistency is reached.
Then pulse in the cheese, taste, and add more salt and pepper to taste. I find I need to add just a pinch or two more salt.
Just a note on the cheese: I really like to use real Parmigiano Reggiano because I think the taste is just so much better. There are large salt crystals that when you bite into them gives your mouth a nice surprise. (This isn't to say that I don't have a shaker of Kraft parmesan - the shredded, not the fine grated powder - in my fridge for emergencies.) The real stuff is pretty expensive when you buy it at a cheese counter (I'm talking to you, Whole Foods), but while it's still expensive at Costco, you get SO MUCH MORE. And it freezes well.
And speaking of freezing well, that's what I did with the pesto I made. Except, of course, for having some for lunch. We had to taste it, you know! I had this pasta in my pantry, made half the bag for the two of us to share, then topped it with that glorious pesto.
Dinner tonight will be a salad topped with shrimp and some homemade Greek dressing that we bought at Katie's last night. (Note: the gyro was delicious, but about halfway through the first period of the hockey game, I leaned over and asked Dwight if he had some Tums. It wasn't so delicious then. My GI tract really must be changing.)
NOTE: Giada also has a recipe for fabulous spinach pesto. I make it when I really want homemade pesto and basil isn't available. It is a REALLY BRIGHT GREEN and tastes really fresh, possible from the lemon. The recipe is basically the same, substituting baby spinach leaves for the basil, and adding 1-2 teaspoons grated lemon zest and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice. Decrease the olive oil and parm to to 1/3 cup each. Blend it just the same. And enjoy! This is easy to make several batches of since the baby spinach is so plentiful and cheap. I've also found that you can substitute walnuts for pine nuts with very little change in flavor. You're welcome.
Let's hope the Mavs do better tonight. They lost to the Gophers in overtime last night.