It's time to gather up all the basil left in your garden, or buy up the last bunches you can find at your local farmers' market. It's your last chance for the summery flavor of pesto.
Of course it is wonderful on pasta. Cut with a splash of mild vinegar, it makes a great salad dressing. Or use it as a sandwich spread. Pesto is also a wonderful accompaniment to grilled meats.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
2/3 cup walnuts or pine nuts, toasted lightly
6 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves (almost a blenderful)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (if using immediately)
Blanch the basil briefly (to preserve its color and flavor.) First prepare an ice-bath either in the sink or in a large mixing bowl. Bring about a quart of water to boil, add about a tablespoon of salt. It should taste like sea water. Submerge the basil leaves and immediately remove and drain then plunge into the ice bath. Pat leaves dry.
In a food processor or blender, combine toasted nuts, basil leaves and garlic until well-combined. While machine is running, pour in olive oil in a slow, steady stream, until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
If using immediately, stir in grated cheese. If freezing, spoon into an ice-cube tray for individual portions, or larger containers such as yogurt containers. To defrost, allow to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes, and stir in cheese.