My basil plants have grown so quickly and lushly this summer that I feel like I've made pesto 1,000 times. It's delicious on toasted bread, as a dip for fresh vegetables, as a sauce for pizza and of course, served over pasta.
After making -- let's say -- batch 563 of my favorite basic pesto, I decided I needed to tweak my standby recipe. I made a version with roasted garlic and toasted pine nuts, and I loved the richer flavor. My husband missed the "bite" of the raw garlic, though, so we made the next batch with a combination of raw and roasted garlic.
Just before you serve the pesto, right after you add the last bit of olive oil, add a squeeze fresh lemon juice. It adds another level of fresh, citrus flavor to the pesto!
If you need to save time, use two cloves of raw garlic instead of the combination of roasted and raw garlic. You also don't have to toast the pine nuts.
I love this simple recipe for Basil Butter on zucchini and strawberry breads but it's also great on wheat toast and French bread.
Pesto with Roasted Garlic
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic
2 cloves roasted garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Squeeze of fresh lemon
Place the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. If using immediately, add the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl and mix in the cheese.
If freezing, transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and stir in cheese.
To roast a head of garlic: Leave the head whole and slice off 1/2 inch of the top of the bulb. Drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil and bake on an oven-safe dish at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until cloves are slightly brown and soft enough to spread like butter.
To toast pine nuts: Place nuts in a nonstick saucepan over medium-low heat. Shake the pan every 30 seconds and remove from heat when nuts start to brown slightly.
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
Kosher salt and ground pepper
In a bowl, mash butter and fresh basil together and season with salt and pepper. Place butter mixture on a piece parchment or waxed paper. Roll into a log shape so that the butter is about 2 inches in diameter. Twist the ends of parchment paper to seal. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours. Slice and serve.
Dawn Minty can be reached at 706-571-8512 and firstname.lastname@example.org Read her blog Dawn's Dish at ledger-enquirer.com/dawn