Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Basic Basil Pesto

These lumpy little objects are my leftover gnocchi. Watch the garlic; at this time of year it is freshly harvested and will be stronger than if it had been stored.

8-10 servings
20 minutes

Basic Basil Pesto made with sunflower seeds1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-6 cloves of garlic
2 cups packed basil leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Prepare the basil by pulling the leaves from the stems, measuring them by packing them firmly into the measuring cup, then washing and draining them well.

Toast the sunflower seeds lightly, if you like, in a dry skillet over medium heat. Put them in the food processor with the salt and garlic, and process until finely chopped. Add the basil and process again until the basil is finely chopped. Process in the oil, until the pesto starts looking creamy.

To use the pesto, toss with hot cooked pasta or gnocchi and grated Parmesan or other hard, highly-flavoured cheese to taste. Or use to top baked potatoes, or fish or chicken, or... well, there are all kinds of ways to use pesto. Go forth and do so.

Whenever I make pesto in the summer when fresh basil is available, I make a full recipe and freeze whatever I don't use at once. I have coloured ice-cube trays that I use for the purpose; that way I know not to use the trays for ice cubes and so avoid having pesto-flavoured drinks. Once the pesto is frozen, pop it out of the trays and put it in a zipper-closure freezer bag. Double bag it, or the flavour of pesto will be all through your freezer.

I figure 1 to 2 pesto cubes equals 1 serving. I think it works better not to freeze the pesto with cheese mixed in, but to mix in freshly grated cheese when you use it. The cubes should be taken out of the freezer at least an hour before they are wanted; you can help them along a little with brief zaps in the microwave, but don't overdo it.


Kevin said...

The pesto looks good. I have never tried a pesto with sun flower seeds. It sounds interesting. I normally use the standard pine nuts, though I tried walnuts once.

Ferdzy said...

Thanks, Kevin. The sunflower seeds are at least theoretically Ontariariarian, unlike the pine-nuts, which also have a somewhat resinous aftertaste not entirely to my liking.