Food on Friday: Pesto is the best(o)

Big, beautiful basil bushes make Julia a happy cooker.
Big, beautiful basil bushes make Julia a happy cooker.

By Julia Westhoff

I am thrilled to have two huge basil plants growing in our backyard. Homegrown basil is something that we’ve usually struggled with, leaving me to grumble unhappily every time I had to spend $4 for a bunch at the grocery store. But this year Jay’s vegetable garden has really peaked, and the basil is especially wonderful.

My favorite way to use basil is to make pesto. I’ve tried lots of different pesto recipes, and have found many to be too heavy. But after lots of tinkering I think I’ve finally mastered pesto. This recipe is amazingly flavorful (even Olivia, who is currently shunning anything green, gobbles it up).

My two tips for pesto success are the use of a secret ingredient (Hint: butter. Isn’t it always?) and using the right kind of noodle. I like to use something like macaroni or orecchiette, to allow for the maximum sauce-to-noodle ratio.

Large bunch of basil – about 2 cups worth
1/2 cup pine nuts (preferably toasted)
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
3 large cloves of garlic, diced
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Put the first five ingredients into the food processor or blender, and press start. Slowly pour in the olive oil until the mixture becomes smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.