basil has to be my favourite herb. it’s bright and assertive and the smell is addictive. i had a whole row of my herb pallet dedicated to just basil this summer, and it made the roof smell incredible every time we watered them. i decided that i wanted to bring my herbs inside for the winter, so i embarked on a little 10 minute indoor gardening project that ended up with only a medium sized mess on my dining table. the basil from my roof was actually looking a little sad, so i did a mini harvest and used it for basil pesto, and bought a new organic plant from metro.
pesto immediately just smells like summer – it reminds me of an abundance of fresh herbs blooming and bright olive oil and the smell of bbq on my rooftop. it’s the easiest sauce to throw together and can be used on everything from pizza to sandwiches to grilled meat. i can’t wait to bake it into some buttery focaccia.
a traditional pesto is created with a mortal and pestle. pesto comes from the italian word pestare which means to crush or mash – but i don’t have a mortal and pestle big enough to make a big batch, so i settled with my food processor. using a food processor still gives you a perfectly delicious pesto, so purists shouldn’t be deterred! the added benefit to using the food processor is that it comes together in less time it takes to boil your pasta, so you can have a bright meal in 10 minutes!
basil pesto penne
*makes about 2 cups
2 cups basil, packed
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup nuts (pine nuts are traditional but can easily be subbed with what you have on hand)
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
about 1/2 cup mild olive oil
add basil, garlic and nuts to food processor and blend until very fine. add cheese and blend again. keeping the food processor on, slowly pour in about 1/2 cup olive oil until blended.
toss with cooked pasta of your choice – i like penne or orecchiette as it catches the pesto. use a little pasta water to thin out if necessary. top with hot peppers! 🌶
pro tip: this recipe makes about 2 cups, so fill an ice cube tray with leftover and pesto and freeze so you can have a taste of spring at any time!