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Monday, August 27, 2007

The Wonders of Basil

It's that time of year again, time to break out the Cuisinart, olive oil and parmesan and get cranking!

Time to make and freeze multiple batches of PESTO! It's such a delight in mid-January to reach into the freezer and grab a bag of this emerald jewel to marinate chicken breasts in, put over pasta or just smear on toasted bread. Here's one of my favorite recipes:

Pesto alla Genovese
1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves (packed)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts, toasted
1 teaspoon minced garlic (or you can just throw the whole cloves in)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I like Olio Santo for this recipe, or use a good Italian one)
the juice of half a lemon, more to taste

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the basil, salt, and pepper and process for a few seconds until the basil is chopped. Add the cheese, pine nuts, and garlic and, while the processor is running, add the oil in a thin, steady stream until a mostly smooth sauce is formed. Transfer pesto to a bowl and set aside. (Note: Pesto may be made 1 day in advance and kept, refrigerated, in an airtight container, until ready to use. If making in advance, be sure to cover the top of the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil to prevent the pesto from darkening. Pesto may also be frozen in the same manner in small quantities for use at a later date.)

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