Saturday, September 28, 2013

Ina Garten's Pesto

So what is a girl to do with a basil plant that is growing out of control in her vegetable garden?


I don't know why I haven't made it before- I've seen it being made on TV, read about it on other food blogs, yet I was worried that it wouldn't turn out. Well, we had a huge basil plant and I didn't want that to go to waste, so I looked towards my favorite Food Network chef (Ina) and saw that she had a recipe.

I love being able to go to her as her recipes tend to be fool-proof and delicious, as well as include ingredients I keep on hand. I did have to run out and buy some pine nuts, but had everything else- and there were only a handful of ingredients- in my pantry.

This basil pesto turned out amazing! I picked up a jarred pesto (Classico brand) last night, and now I just don't think the jarred stuff will compare to this fresh pesto recipe. Summer is coming to an end here, and I am so glad I made this. Homemade was definitely the way to go, and bonus that it was super easy!

Some notes- since the ingredient list is minimal, it is important to buy the best olive oil and Parmesan cheese you can buy. For me, I already had Costco's olive oil so I ended up using this, and picked up an extra aged (18 month) Parmesan cheese wedge from Kroger (their Private Selection brand).

The recipe says it should yield 4 cups, but mine only came out to 2.5 cups.... I'm beginning to think it's b/c I didn't pack my basil leaves in the measuring cups. Lesson learned! I also decreased the amount of oil to 1 cup (vs. 1.5 cups that the recipe states). So glad I did as it would've been too oily!

Reviewers also said that it is heavy on the garlic- it definitely is, and suits us just fine. Some others said it was too salty, so it is important to note that this recipe (like a lot of Ina's recipe) calls for kosher salt (which is different than the usual Morton's table salt)- make sure you use kosher salt!

Homemade Pesto

  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (these are located near the tomatoes at my local Kroger)
  • 3 Tbsp chopped garlic (9 cloves)
  • 5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups good olive oil, divided (used Costco's olive oil)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (used Kroger's Private Selection extra aged 18-month Parmesan cheese wedge)
1. Place the walnuts, pine nuts, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. 

2. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. 

3. With the processor running, slowly pour 1 cup of olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. 

4. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute.

5. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top. (Many reviewed said they used the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil here.)

Note: Air is the enemy of pesto. For freezing, pack it in containers with a film of oil or plastic wrap directly on top with the air pressed out. (I put plastic wrap directly on top of my pesto with the air pressed out in an airtight Pyrex glass dish.)

To clean basil, remove the leaves, swirl them in a bowl of water, and then spin them very dry in a salad spinner. Store them in a closed plastic bag with a slightly damp paper towel. As long as the leaves are dry they will stay green for several days.

Source: Adapted from Ina Garten


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