During the summer time, I grow a small herb garden that usually includes a combination of the following: parsley, cilantro, chives, thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, and basil. As my basil starts to really grow and go crazy, I think, “What am I going to do with all of this basil?” And then I remember – pesto! So throughout the summer I make a few batches of pesto, put them in freezer bags, and freeze them so I have enough to last me until I start wondering what to do with my basil the next summer.
Recently, I made my first batch of basil for this year, and I’m so excited about it. I love absolutely love pesto and wasted no time in using it in a recipe. That recipe will come later, but for now, I’m going to show you how to make this fresh, delicious, herb sauce.
Pesto is really very easy to make. If you have the basil, chances are you will have the other ingredients you need on hand. You can also vary it a little by using different nuts and adding in different herbs. (Incidentally, I saw a recipe for cilantro pesto that was used in a chicken recipe that I really want to try because I love cilantro. I’ll let you know how that goes.)
Basil pesto is traditionally made with toasted pine nuts; however, I no longer use them due to a condition called pine nut mouth. Oh, I’ve never had it, I’m just trying to avoid it (though after I first heard about it and eating some pesto, I kept analyzing the conditions in my mouth to determine if I was getting pine nut mouth – I think I taste it a little, wait no, maybe, yes there it is, no). It’s a very unpleasant condition where you have a bitter metallic taste in your mouth after eating pine nuts. And you don’t notice anything while you’re actually consuming the pine nuts! It lasts for a couple of days to a couple of weeks and there’s basically nothing you can do about it. I’ve read some postings online from people who have had this, and they sounded miserable and desperate to get rid of it. There’s an article by the FDA about it that says the condition is “exacerbated by consumption of any other food during this period”… this makes me cock my head sideways like a dog hearing a high-pitched sound. Are they serious with this? As if not consuming food during the two day to two week period that this lasts is an option. The last thing I will tell you about this is that it’s primarily been linked to pine nuts from China. There. I’m done.
So now you know why I use walnuts in my pesto. I like walnuts, so this is not a problem for me, and I think pesto with walnuts tastes amazing! I also usually throw a handful of parsley in my pesto just because I really like the bright, fresh taste of parsley, and if I have that much basil, I usually have that much parsley.
- 1 cup basil leaves, packed
- handful of flat leaf parsley (approx 1/4 cup), optional
- 1/3 cup walnuts
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
- 1/4-1/3 extra virgin olive oil
Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Toast the walnuts for about 10 minutes, or until they become fragrant. Remove from heat and cool.
Serve the pesto fresh with your favorite pasta or freeze it for later.
Here’s a free tip for you – must be your lucky day! To get the pesto into the bag easily, insert the bag into a glass and fold the top of the bag over. The glass will hold the bag open so you can easily pour in the pesto and the folded over top stays clean so you can just seal it right up!
Now that you know how to make pesto, keep an eye out for recipes that use pesto in the near future!