Perfect Basil Pesto Sauce

Basil Pesto Sauce

Original recipe of the most popular sauce

That is a recipe I’ve been using faithfully (with slight modifications) since I discovered that I liked basil pesto. It comes from Evelyn Raab’s The Clueless Vegetarian. Get bunches of this fragrant herb from our farmers and make batches for use on lazy winter evenings. When grocery shopping is the last thing you want to do in subzero temperatures, this is the perfect meal to remind you that summer is on its way.

So, what you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup (50 ml) pine nuts (or walnuts, or almonds for a more economical option)
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) olive oil (go for a better quality type)
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves (tender shoots and flower buds)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (more or less depending on how much you love it, or not)
  • 1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
  • 3/4 cup (175 ml) grated Parmesan cheese (although Romano gives a more smooth, less biting flavour – you decide)

“In a small skillet over medium-low heat, toast the pine nuts in 1 tbsp. (15 ml) of the olive oil – constantly stirring just until they begin to turn golden. [Or set your toaster oven at 300F and toast whichever nuts you choose to use, but take care not to burn them; it may take about 10 minutes, depending on what you use.]… Toasting the pine nuts really brings out their flavour. Dump the toasted pine nuts into the bowl of a food processor and add the rest of the olive oil, the basil leaves, garlic and salt. Process until almost (but not totally) smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times so that the sauce blends evenly. Add the Parmesan [Romano] cheese and process to mix.”

Now, according to Evelyn Raab, this should yield about 2 cups of pesto sauce, but that has not been my experience. I love the stuff so much that I smother the pasta in it, but for my winter emergency food batches, I leave the cheese and freeze them in small ziplock freezer bags. I flatten the sauce, and as it freezes into a thin sheet, I can break off as many pieces as needed, adding the cheese once thawed.

Enjoy this in summer with a rainbow salad of local heirloom tomatoes or any veg or salad in winter.