As the temperatures start getting close to freezing in the South, we find that we use more basil before the plants die out. Fresh leaves in Caprese salad and on pizza Margherita, and fresh pesto for pasta, bruschetta and sandwiches are all delicious. And the spicy aroma doesn't hurt!
When my grandmother made this recipe, she used a mortar and pestle and hand ground all the ingredients together which makes a chunkier, more rustic sauce. For a smoother, more consistent pesto I use a food processor. We use walnuts since I am allergic to pine nuts.
1 cup fresh basil leaves (packed)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts (or substitute walnuts)
2 cloves of garlic
¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
pinch of salt and pepper
Place the basil, parsley, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and pulse for a few seconds until the basil is chopped. Add walnuts (I'm allergic to pine nuts!) and garlic and then add the olive oil in a thin, steady stream until a smooth sauce is formed. Add grated cheese and pulse to mix. Add to the cooked pasta of your choice and toss gently to coat pasta completely. If the sauce is too thick, add ¼ cup of the pasta water to the mixture. Additional olive oil may be added as well. Serve and sprinkle top with additional grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Pesto may be made 1 day in advance and kept, refrigerated, in an airtight container, until ready to use. If making in advance, be sure to cover the top of the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil to prevent the pesto from darkening. Pesto may also be frozen in the same manner in small quantities for use at a later date, but it as never as good as using it right out of the garden.