At this time of year there’s no doubt that herbs are the rage. My home garden is lush with beautiful green leaves – parsley, cilantro, oregano, marjoram, sage, thyme and the most important herb of all – basil.
For this pesto recipe, I combined the aromatic basil leaves with almonds. This incredible Basil Almond Pesto will help you serve great panini or pasta dishes in minutes. Don’t know about you, but with all that extra time, I’d rather go to a movie or enjoy a great outdoor activity such as biking on a mountain trail or rollerblading at Santa Monica Beach.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Makes: 1 pint
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup whole almonds (unroasted and unsalted)
2 cups fresh, Italian flat parsley leaves, slightly packed (washed and spun dry)
2 cups fresh basil leaves, slightly packed (washed and spun dry)*
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1. In a food processor, grind the garlic and salt.
2. Add the almonds and process until they are ground (make sure they do not turn into a paste).
3. Open the food processor cover and add the parsley and basil leaves, making sure they fit inside barrel. Cover and process until the leaves and almonds have combined and the pesto has formed.
4. Add the cheese and process once more until mixture is uniform.
5. With the motor running, slowly pour the oil into the pesto in a thin stream.
6. Using a spoon, transfer the pesto to a glass jar, flattening the top. Gently and slowly pour the vegetable oil over top of pesto to seal it (this will prevent the pesto from blackening). Cover and refrigerate.
Pesto sauces keep in refrigerator up to 3 weeks. Whenever using small amounts of pesto, make sure the remaining portion inside jar is covered with vegetable oil.
Pasta with Basil Almond Pesto – Serves 4:
1. While waiting for one pound of pasta to cook, spoon about 3/4 cup pesto into a glass or porcelain serving bowl.
2. Drain the pasta and immediately transfer it to the bowl with the pesto. Gently toss the pasta until it is evenly coated with the pesto.
3. For a creamier texture, add 2 to 3 tablespoons whipping cream and toss.
Serve immediately and ask guests to sprinkle some grated cheese over their pasta, if desired.
Pesto can also be used as a spread on toasted Italian or French bread and in panini.
*Note: After basil leaves have been spun dry, lay each leaf flat on paper towels. Using another paper towel, pat each leaf dry, on both sides. This will prevent the leaves from blackening.
Text and Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real