Basil plants – often thought of as ‘King of the herbs’ – are certainly one of the most popular herbs grown in the home garden.
Basil leaves – 2 packed cups (can sub half the basil leaves with baby spinach)
Pine Nuts (other nuts can be used such as walnuts, almonds or pistachios) – 1/3 cup
Parmasan Cheese – 1/2 cup
Garlic – 3 cloves (about a tablespoon full)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 1/2 cup
Lemon Juice – 1 teaspoon (optional)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Rinse the basil leaves and pat dry. Place the basil together with the pine nuts into a food processor and blend. Add the crushed garlic and parmesan cheese and blend some more. The parmesan cheese adds a little saltiness and helps the pesto to stick together. Scrape down the sides of the blender with a spatula. When done, get the olive oil ready and turn the blender on to a slow speed. Slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream to the mixture while the food processor is running. Adding the oil slowly helps it emulsify and keep the oil from separating. Occasionally stop and scrape down the sides of the food processor. Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. One teaspoon of fresh lemon juice brightens everything up and really helps the other flavours shine, but this is optional.
Make it your own: For a twist, try adding your favourite herbs like coriander, flat leafed parsley or mint. Substitute half the basil leaves for rocket or spinach leaves. Add your favourite spices like cayenne, ground ginger or paprika. Add a dash of your Tabasco Sauce.