Le Voov! Basil Pesto ?
Basil is one of my favorite summertime herbs to incorporate into a recipe. The bold, distinct aromatic taste of basil pesto brightens the flavor of just about everything. Basil is packed with vitamin A, which supports a healthy immune system and contains very potent anti-inflammatory agents to fight premature aging and chronic disease. Add to that the healthy fats in both the olive oil and pine nuts and you’ve got yourself a Voovaciously healthy spread.
While attending university for my undergrad, I created an organic pesto business and sold my homemade basil pesto at the local farmer’s market during the summer and early autumn months. At the time, I was living in a small cottage on 3-acres of glorious organic farming soil. Fortunately, my landlord would let me fire-up his old tractor a few times a year to till the field. So I’d strap on my bikini, a well-worn pair of Wellies, and a sun hat, grab a cocktail, and make a good party out of it!
I grew my own garlic and basil for my pesto business, so my major expense was simply for high quality extra virgin olive oil and pine nuts. Lots and lots of pine nuts…
Le Voov! Basil Pesto
2 cups fresh basil leaves, preferably homegrown and organic
¾ cup fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon of fresh oregano
½ cup high quality extra virgin olive oil
Zest & juice from one ripe Meyer Lemon, approx. 2-tablespoons of juice
3 – 6 cloves of fresh garlic
3 – 4 tablespoons of toasted pine nuts
Salt & pepper to taste
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons freshly grated Romano cheese
2 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
Soak, pick, rinse & dry all basil, Italian parsley and oregano leaves. (I use a salad spinner for this task.) Place the pine nuts into a skillet on medium-high and toast gently for a few minutes. Be careful, as they will burn if you even take your eyes off of them! I usually burn a sacrificial batch prior to actually toasting them ‘gently’. 😉
Zest the lemon, then juice it. (Trust me, if you do this the other way around, it’s a real tricky task!) Place first 8-ingredients into a high-quality blender such as the Vitamix or Cuisinart Food Processor, both available at our Amazon Store.
Mix until smooth.
If you are planning upon freezing pesto, stop here.
Pour basil mixture into large bowl and add cheeses, stirring by hand. Finally, fold the butter into the sauce. Voilà! Perfect pesto every time!!!
Le Voov! Chef’s Notes: Every year I freeze several gallons of my homemade pesto, so when the chill of winter is upon us, we can taste the lovely warm flavors of summer. If you wish to do the same, simply leave out the cheese and butter to freeze. I also freeze several ice cube trays of pesto each year so I can grab a few and throw them into a stir-fry, my morning eggs, or red sauce.
We enjoy smearing freshly made pesto on toast or sandwiches, pasta or a butter-browned chicken breast. You can use roasted garlic to add a more rich, smoky flavor. I have also experimented with cilantro and walnut pesto, swapped out pistachios in place of the pine nuts, and had a blast playing with this base recipe. My hope is you will carry on this tradition and do the same. Please feel free to share your favorites with me. Thanks. Enjoy!