We plant basil in the herb garden for two reasons -- to chop and sprinkle over fresh garden tomatoes and to make pesto not only to use over pasta in the summer but to jar and freeze for winter meals. A plate of good pasta, with spoonfuls of pesto and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese is truly summer on a plate in the middle of winter. A big dab in a bowl of vegetable soup turns it into the French soup au pistou.
This weekend, the basil harvest was big enough to provide five jam jars of pesto. One in the fridge to drizzle over tomatoes while the other four was put in the freezer for winter meals.
My recipe is simple except I omit the Parmesan until I thaw and use. I read that tip somewhere (although now I can't remember where) and have always done so.
For every 2 cups of basil leaves, you need 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1/3 cup pine nuts (you can use walnuts but I prefer using the traditional pine nuts) and 3 medium size cloves of garlic. If you're going to use it right away and not freeze, you will also need 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.
Combine the basil and pine nuts and pulse a few times. Add the garlic and pulse a few times more. Turn on the food processor and slowly pour the olive oil down the tube in a constant stream. Scrape down sides. If you're going to use it right away, add the Parmesan cheese. If you're going to freeze, put it in jars or freezer containers and seal.
Two cups of basil leaves will make about 1 cup of pesto.
The best thing about pesto making is the smear that I put over a slice of baguette. I call it "quality control"!