It is a snap to make fresh pesto in a blender or food processor, so when basil is abundant, make a large batch of this sauce
and freeze it in portions to use at a later date (see the instructions below if you are going to freeze it). Pine nuts are
delicious but expensive. Less pricey walnuts make a satisfactory substitute.
As you can see by the variations that follow, there are many types of delicious pestos. Don't limit yourself to matching pesto
with pasta; pesto is a wonderful partner to many other types of dishes, such as steamed rice. Or add a small amount to mayonnaise
and use it to garnish a chicken or turkey sandwich.
When you are making batches of pesto to freeze, omit the Parmesan and the pine nuts. Add the cheese and the chopped nuts after
the pesto has thawed, right before you use it in the dish.
Makes: About 2 1/2 cups, enough for 1 pound of pasta
Time: 10 minutes
Pasta: Thin strands or ribbons
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2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup or more, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, or 1/4 cup pregrated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
||Rinse the basil well and pat dry. Place the leaves in a food processor or blender.|
||Peel and coarsely chop the garlic. Add it to the processor and process with the basil until smooth. While the processor
is running, slowly drizzle in the oil. Then add the Parmesan and pine nuts. Process just until all of the ingredients are
combined and the nuts are chopped, about 15 seconds. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add more cheese if you wish.
The sauce is now ready to use.|
Pesto for Dieters: To get a creamy effect without the fat from the oil and nuts, blend the basil and garlic
with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, and 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese. For a terrific dish,
toss some chopped seeded tomatoes or cucumbers with the pasta and pesto.
Parsley-Mint Pesto: Substitute 1 cup parsley leaves and 1 cup mint leaves for the 2 cups fresh basil. Substitute
walnuts for the pine nuts and Asiago cheese for the Parmesan.
Pimiento Pesto: Substitute 4 ounces drained pimientos for the basil and chèvre for the Parmesan.
Excerpted from MONDAY-TO-FRIDAY PASTA copyright © 1995 Michele Urvater.
Reprinted with the permission of Workman Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.