If you grow your own basil like I do, now is the perfect time to preserve this fragrant herb for the winter months. The Birri Brothers at the Jean-Talon Market sell it by the basket, even by the bushel. They are my go to guys for everything veggie. Emma asked to make pesto the other day – she loves it!
Pesto originated in Genoa, an Italian port city in the region of Liguria on the Mediterranean Sea. Aromatic basil, garlic, Parmigiano Reggiano, pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil and salt. That’s it! You could store it in the fridge for at least 3 weeks, or store in the freezer in small containers so you can savour that summer freshness throughout those dark and cold winters. I also freeze some in ice-cube trays and then in freezer bags. I throw a couple of cubes in my minestrone soup, or even steam up some veggies and then mix in a pesto cube or two. I don’t just use it with pasta. I love to slather it on my pizza dough and then just add some cherry tomatoes and fresh mozarella. A taste of summer in every bite! It’s great on roast chicken, sliced tomatoes, or drizzle more olive oil into it and use it as a dipping sauce for vegetables. Or melted over some fish. The possibilities are endless.
Traditionally, pesto is made in a mortar and pestle. “Pounding fragrant things — particularly garlic, basil, parsley — is a tremendous antidote to depression.” (Patience Gray, British cookery and travel author.) If you feel the need to let out some of your frustrations, by all means pound away. If not, use a food processor. That’s what Emma and I did. We simply made it by taste-testing as we went along. Do the same and if you want it more garlicky, then add more garlic. Or more pine nuts for a nuttier taste.
A bunch a basil leaves, we used about 4 cups
Garlic, 3 cloves
Pine Nuts, 1/2 cup
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a little more than 1/2 cup, close to 3/4 cup
Parmigiano Reggiano, grated, at least 1/2 cup
Salt, to taste
We washed and dried the basil leaves and put them in the food processor. We gave it a blitz and then added the garlic and pine nuts. We blitzed some more and added olive oil with the food processor running. Lastly, we added the Parmigiano and salt. Then we tasted, added more Parmigiano and salt and tasted again. Perfect! We had it with pasta and Parmigiano shavings.