Homemade Basil Pesto
My herb garden is my pride and joy. I’m no gardener, not really, but for some reason, my herb plants seem to thrive with minimum care. Which may have more to do with the climate here in Greece and not my skills (or lack of) as a gardener? With my basil plants producing so many leaves homemade basil pesto is a perfect way to use them up. Homemade basil pesto can be added to pasta, used as a pizza topping or a dip. It can even be used as a sandwich spread! Let your imagination guide you.
Once made basil pesto can will keep in a jar in the fridge for a week or so, possibly longer because of the amount of olive oil used, but it never stays that long in our fridge. It also freezes nicely. I find the best way to freeze it is in ice cube trays for convenience, but it can be frozen in jars or bags too.
With the right care, these basil plants should last well into winter.
It takes just a few ingredients to make a tasty pesto.
Homemade Basil Pesto – Why I Call It No Fuss?
I call this a no-fuss recipe because if I don’t have an ingredient I find a substitute, no fuss. Traditionally pinenuts are used in a pesto, but I prefer almonds and have even used cashew nuts or walnuts if I haven’t had almonds. It’s the same with the cheese; any finely grated hard cheese will do. Graviera is probably my favourite, but whatever hard cheese you have at hand will do. The amount of basil or garlic doesn’t have to be precise either, it can be altered to taste or whatever amount you have. It can’t be much simpler than that.
Never Substitute The Olive Oil!
The only thing that you shouldn’t substitute is olive oil. It’s what gives the pesto a nice peppery taste!
Luckily olive oil is something we are never short of. The area we live is full of olive groves and we often get freshly pressed extra virgin olive oil handed to us by my parents or friendly neighbours. Last winter Dad spent an entire morning at the olive factory watching his olives being pressed. We thought he was just dropping his sacks off at the factory so were worried, but he returned glowing with excitement and lugging 28 litres of extra virgin olive oil from his very own trees! The men there had let him watch the whole process. There are so many olive sacks going through the factory (it runs 24/7 for weeks) that he wasn’t sure that the oil he gets back is from his olives, but it is!
A food processor is best for making pesto, but you could use a pestle and mortar. When chopping the almonds and garlic I drop them through the slot whilst the food processor is on full. That seems to be the best way as they ping about like popcorn in a pan and get nicely chopped.
Basil leaves are added and the olive oil slowly added whilst the food processor is turning.
When the garlic, almonds, basil and olive oil are nicely combined the cheese is added followed by salt, pepper and a little lemon juice to taste.
Fresh homemade basil pesto! Ready to be added to pasta, pizza or anything else you’d like to add it to… Excuse the dappled light, but it’s better than in my kitchen.
What do you do with excess fresh herbs?
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