image from fresh 365
Every spring I eagerly await until it is consistently warm enough to put out my basil plants. Basil is one of my favorite herbs to grow and I always make sure to have plenty of planted pots scattered around the patio for quick harvesting near the kitchen. I basically live on tomatoes, basil, mozzarella cheese and extra-virgin olive oil! I eat it as a caprese salad, combine it with fresh ciabatta bread to make paninis from it, buy fresh pizza dough to cook pizzas on the grille... I could go on and on.
One of my absolute favorite things to do with fresh basil is make pesto which can be used now and frozen in individual packages for use later when fresh basil is harder to find. Here is my favorite recipe for basil pesto. Remember the flavor of the olive oil is very important in pesto so use the freshest and best one you can afford. Also, make sure to chop all the ingredients by hand instead of using a blender. It is a little more work but makes a huge difference in the end. (True about so many things!)
A large bunch of basil (leaves only)
3 cloves of garlic
One small handful of raw pine nuts
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
A few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
Using a large mezzaluna (or large knife) begin chopping the garlic with some of the basil. Keep adding basil as you chop. Continue chopping, gathering your ingredients and chopping until the garlic and basil are well minced. At this point add approximately 1/2 the pine nuts and continue chopping. Then add the remaining pine nuts and chop some more. Once you have added all the pine nuts, you can start adding the fresh parmesan cheese. Continue chopping until all the cheese is added and the mixture is super fine. (You should be able to compact it together into a cake type shape.) Add this cake to a bowl and cover with a few tablespoons of olive oil. You can cover and refrigerate this for sooner use (just stir it all together before using to incorporate the basil mixture with the olive oil) or stir together and freeze in air tight freezer bags.
There is nothing better than that!