I believe that pesto is one of the universe's most perfect green foods.
I believe that you should make many batches of pesto in the fall to freeze and supply you though the winter.
This year our basil patch in the greenhouse has been extraordinary. While the garden basil is past its prime, weedy and seedy and scruffy and tough, the high tunnel basil is still picture-perfect, with large, tender leaves and full, abundant plants. But the basil's days are numbered - it will very soon be too cold for basil even in the greenhouse, and it's time to transplant some cold season crops into that precious spot.
I have been meaning to transform that basil into pesto for weeks, but dreading it because our old blender is just not up to the task. It is so annoying trying to get the leaves to feed down to the blades to be chopped up and not just whirl around intact. But, this week I splurged on a new blender/food processor called a Ninja, that boasted excellent consumer reviews. It has 1500 watts of power, but what impressed me most was that there is not a single blade at the bottom, but three tiers of blades! That ought to chop up the greens for my pesto and my smoothies. So, today I pulled up a few basil plants and eagerly loaded my pesto ingredients into the blender.
2 c. packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 c. pine nuts (or walnuts)
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2/3 c. parmesan reggiano cheese (or pecorino, asiago, or a blend)
Combine the ingredients in the blender. In the Ninja blender, I just set it on "chop" and turned it on for about 10 seconds and it was perfect. In a less powerful blender, pulse until smooth. Or use a big mortar and pestle and grind by hand--that's how pesto got its name!
I like to toast the nuts slightly. You can make wonderful variations of pesto--one of my favorites is to use fresh cilantro instead of basil, with toasted pepitas instead of pine nuts and a little dried chile and a squeeze of lime to spice it up. Yes, maybe I will make that version tomorrow.