Monday, September 02, 2013

End of summer treat: basil pesto

Where did summer go? Well, I do know where some of it went - much of it was consumed by a constant routine of doctor's appointments in preparation for the arrival of a new child - now imminently on the horizon. Summer has both gone quickly as I've tried to pack in as much as possible before the new arrival, and in some ways slowly as I've been physically slow and limited. We've stayed close to home on the weekends, enjoyed guests, cooked in and enjoyed just hanging out together.

To make things easier, we signed up for a new food subscription service that brings carefully selected farmer's market produce and thoughtful, simple recipes to your door.  It helped keep my appreciation of fresh produce and interesting artisanal ingredients alive even when the thought of hauling produce back from the farmer's market was impossible or the challenge of exploring a new recipe seemingly insurmountable.  Between that, our garden and the farm markets upstate, we've had direct-from-farm ingredients all summer including a constant supply of fresh eggs and wonderful milk.  I bought a beautiful, light, handmade basket to transport vegetables from our own garden as a special treat and an incentive to stand out in the heat.  Lately the tomatoes and raspberries in particular have been ready for harvest by the boat-load - we've enjoyed picking and trying to eat them as fast as they appear.

This weekend I realized I had almost forgotten the pleasure of harvesting the big, bushy basil that is almost waist-high at this point.  We brought in a basketful of leaves and then enjoyed processing several batches of pesto - some of which I'll freeze so we can enjoy it longer.  Last summer's frozen bounty was destroyed by the days without electricity during the hurricane.  Maybe we'll make a point to consume it faster this year so we don't expose ourselves again to that risk.

Homemade pesto

4 cups firmly packed basil leaves, washed and dried
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry skillet until golden brown
1/4-1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic
Juice from 1/2 lemon to maintain bright green color of the basil
Olive oil to taste/desired consistency
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a food processor, pulse garlic until minced.  Add basil leaves, a several generous pinches of salt and pepper, and pulse until roughly chopped.  Add pine nuts and pulse ~5 times until nuts are roughly chopped.  Add cheese.  While food processor is running, continuously stream olive oil through the food chute until a homogenous paste is formed.  Process less for a chunkier pesto or more for a finer pesto.  Squeeze lemon juice over pesto and pulse a few times to combine.  Adjust seasonings to taste.