The earthy morning scent of fall is getting stronger, so even though I’m not ready for summer to end yet, it’s clearly time to yank the basil. I had four Genovese plants that were big and bushy, all trying their best to sneak their flowers under my nose. I pulled ’em out whole, and stuck their roots into a bucket of water. The fragrant bouquet graced my back porch for a few days, until I made it to Costco for the rest of the supplies. Tonight was the big Pestoing!
The first step was to pick the leaves off of the plants:
My biggest Tupperware bowl, filled with leaves:
Gather up all our ingredients:
Pulse the garlic, pine nuts, and salt:
Add the leaves:
It smells better than it looks, and tastes even better than it smells!
Linc gives it a go:
Pesto is the besto!
We got seven bags, each about 12.5-13 ounces! That’s over FIVE POUNDS of goodness:
Now some folks insist you need to break out the mortar and pestle (after all, the fact that the words “pesto” and “pestle” are so similar isn’t an accident). But if you have a LOT of basil to process, and your kitchen assistants have limited attention spans, you’ve got to call in the big guns sometimes.
Pesto In Bulk
In a food processor with a large bowl, pulse together:
• 2/3 cup pine nuts (no need to toast them)
• 1 tsp. Kosher salt
• 6-8 cloves of peeled garlic, depending on the size
Add to the bowl and process until all the leaves are worked in (but not totally obliterated):
• 4 cups fresh basil leaves (rinsed, dried, all garden stowaways shaken off, and picked from the main woody stems… don’t use the flowers, they are bitter)
Remove the lid and blade, and use a flexible spatula to gently mix in:
• 2/3 cup grated Pecorino/Romano cheese
• 1/2 cup of the best olive oil you can afford
Makes about 12.5 oz. of pesto sauce, which should be plenty for about 3 pounds of cooked pasta. You can freeze it if you’re not going to use it in the next day or two, but be sure to leave plenty of time for your pesto to defrost… do NOT warm it up or use the microwave to defrost it! Heat will destroy your bright, beautiful flavors. When you want to use it, add it directly to the cooked, drained pasta, adding a quarter cup or so of reserved pasta water to help distribute the pesto evenly.