It’s painful and uncomfortable when friends are cheap. Usually those people will end up on my dodge list. If you’re my friend, I not only want to share my good times, but my homemade cheese, the best croissants, and a perfect bottle of wine I’ve had stashed away. What is the beauty of a moment if you can’t share it with your friends?
I feel the same way about the food I’ve put out in every restaurant I’ve worked in. We don’t skimp on ingredients or cut corners, putting the best we can on the plate in front of you.
At my last job, an Italian restaurant, I ate fresh pesto slathered on a piece of bread, hot from the oven, every morning. A heavenly morning experience, and one I crave often. I went to the grocery store in search of some pesto and the packaged basil pesto that I picked up was chockablock full of low-quality, cheap ingredients and preservatives. Walnuts instead of pine nuts. Canola oil instead of olive oil. A whey protein in the place of parm cheese. Preservative names I can’t pronounce. Yum!
Fresh pesto is so vibrant in flavor and simple to make. Once you learn and taste the difference, you will hopefully never feel the need to go back to the store bought preservative-laden junk.
By the way, I’ve been thinking about starting a new pesto wrestling league, way better for your skin than jello wrestling. Let me know if you have any cheap-ass friends whose face you’d like to smash in some fresh pesto. Freshly baked bread not included.
Slather Me in Basil Pesto
2.25 ounces Basil Leaves
3-4 cloves each Garlic, Cloves (or if you are more adventurous, 6-7 each - don't plan on kissing anyone if you go the adventurous route ;o) )
2.25 ounces Pine Nuts
1 ounce Parmigiano Reggiano (though in my house, extra pinches are sometimes added)
1/2 cup EV Olive oil, good quality
1/2 each Lemon, Juiced
To taste Salt, Kosher
To taste Pepper, Freshly ground
Turn oven to 350 degrees. Place raw pine nuts on a sheet pan and toast. Note: Watch closely when you are toasting nuts. Some ovens are hotter than others and will toast your nuts more quickly. (That's what she said ;o)) Shake the pan once or twice to ensure nuts are toasted on all sides and do not burn. Allow the nuts to cool completely.
In your robo coup or food processor, place the basil, garlic, pine nuts, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Begin to puree. Stop robo coup and scrape down the sides. Begin to puree again, and add the remaining olive oil through the top of the machine. Stop the robo coup, scrape down the sides. Add the parm cheese, and pulse to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper and pulse once more to incorporate.
Keep pesto refrigerated when not devouring. If you have any leftover, it should keep for a few days in the refrigerator, or a month in the freezer.
One more note: I love this extra virgin olive oil from California Olive Ranch. It sells at Henry’s Markets in California and Whole Foods Market in Arizona. Reasonably priced, I believe under $15, and delicious.