June 27, 2010

Basil Pesto

This weekend I slowly perused the outdoor market in Rittenhouse Square Park taking in the sights and smells. The produce from local farmers was plentiful: pints of bright yellow, orange and red heirloom tomatoes; ripe, deep purple blueberries; zucchini and squash in all sorts of twisted shapes and sizes. Indulgent baked goods -- sweet breads, oversized cookies, loaves of dough stuffed with pepperoni and cheese -- beckoned to be bought and consumed on the spot. The variety of fresh local cheeses all looked so rich and creamy that I wished I could bring a generous hunk of each home....

Despite the many temptations waiting under each crisp, white tent, I gravitated toward only one item: a large, leafy bright green basil plant sitting in a small cup of dirt. I could smell the plant's slightly tart, slightly citrusy aroma from a few feet away. I knew this plant would be coming home with me.

I snugly tucked the rather large plant in my shoulder bag and proceeded to do a few more hours worth of shopping around town. I am pretty sure that the looks I got at Anthropologie and City Sports had more to do with the giant tree I had growing out from under my shoulder than anything else.

Later, when I got home, I plucked off almost every leaf and used it to make this bright, fragrant, and summery pesto. Then, I potted the plant, gave it a little love, and asked it to sprout some more leaves as soon as possible.

Fresh Basil Pesto: (makes a little over 1 cup)

4 cups packed fresh basil leaves, washed
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted until golden and fragrant
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (about 1 1/2 ounces)
2 large garlic cloves
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt

Place the garlic and pine nuts into the food processor and pulse, scraping down the sides to chop completely. 
Add the basil leaves and turn the processor on, pouring the olive oil through the top, then the lemon juice, and then the parmesan. Season to taste with sea salt.

Store in a tightly sealed container for a day, freeze, or use immediately.This pesto is wonderful spread on a sandwich, used as a dip for grilled breads and vegetables, or tossed with orichette pasta and ripe, cherry tomatoes.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...