1 cup raw walnuts
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (about 9 cloves)
3 oz. fresh basil, large or woody stems removed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Juice of one freshly squeezed lemon
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Place the walnuts and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil, salt, pepper and lemon juice. With the processor running, slowly pour the extra virgin olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top. This recipe makes about 3 cups of pesto.
Notes: 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.
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.
I enjoy growing fresh herbs in my garden and in various containers on my deck. I do not consider myself a “green thumb” but I can really grow basil. I find that it grows alright indoors, where I like to keep the herb in a container until the threat of frost is gone. Once the weather cooperates, I will move my basil to the outdoors in a sunny spot on my deck. With easy care including plenty of summer sunshine and constant watering, I find that my basil plants seem to really take off and grow. That is when I get excited because happy basil plants mean I am well on my way to having some fresh pesto.
What I love about pesto is that it is so versatile. I enjoy using pesto as a spread on sandwiches, particularly on the Pesto Egg Sammy recipe featured here. The combination of flavors is amazing and it is the kind of breakfast that will keep me from being hungry much before lunchtime. I also like to use pesto on any type of pasta and then add shrimp or chicken along with tomatoes and a little extra parmesan, such as in the Chicken Pesto Pasta recipe I am sharing.
Chef Char teaches cooking classes in Kitchen 242, located in the Muskegon Farmers Market. Chef Char also is a regularly featured chef on WZZM TV13 in Grand Rapids. She enjoys teaching easy and healthy recipes to home cooks and “little chefs” who are curious about cooking. Tickets for Chef Char’s cooking classes are available through Eventbrite and can be found at this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/d/mi–muskegon/chef-char/