Friday, August 3, 2012

Chef Tony's Pesto

Every summer for as long as I can remember my dad has made at least one huge batch of homemade pesto using fresh basil from his garden in our backyard. It is so, so delicious. In my mind, no one makes pesto better than he does. 

At the urging of a good friend of mine I recently bought a few herb plants to keep in my apartment: mint, rosemary, and of course, basil. Best decision ever. I love that I can walk over to my window and immediately have fresh rosemary with my millet and chicken sausage for lunch or on a baked potato, or fresh mint to toss in with my Quinoa Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing

I decided to go straight to the source and asked my dad to email me his recipe. I tweaked it slightly—I wanted to make a nut-free batch so that my roommate, who is allergic to nuts, could have some. I also cut the recipe in half since this was my first time making it. 

Without further ado... 

Chef Tony's Pesto 

12 servings 

3 cups basil leaves
1 1/2 cups olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, diced (I used 3 cloves because I love garlic)
3 tablespoons soft organic or pasteurized butter
8 oz parmesan (buy it grated or shredded; use the good freshly grated stuff when you serve the dish)
If you want to make it with nuts, only make it with 6 oz parmesan and add:

2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 handfuls walnuts

Mix the first six ingredients in a blender at medium speed. (My dad said he usually does it in two batches, but I cut the recipe in half and did it all in one batch). Pour into a large bowl. Mix in the parmesan by hand.

When storing or freezing (it will keep in the fridge for a week or so), pour a film of olive oil on top of the pesto.

I had the pesto on a serving of gluten-free rice pasta from Trader Joe's (the best gluten-free pasta I've come across thus far), over a bed of sauteed kale. And of course with a nice big glass of La Crema pinot noir (my favorite red wine—my parents and I recently went to their tasting room in Sonoma, CA and my very thoughtful dad had some shipped to me in NYC). If you're an Italian red wine fan, it would also go nicely with a glass of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo or Sangivoese. 

It was fantastic, if I do say so myself! Oh, and I'd say thie pesto really only took about 20 minutes to make in total. Very easy!

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