Nothing expresses the flavors of Summer more then fresh basil from the garden. Basil is in the same family as mint, and it can grow rapidly, almost like a weed. But unlike a weed, it is only seasonal and it dies quickly. Fortunately, you can find it pretty regularly in most supermarkets, even in the spring before it is in full bloom.
After you use it in tomato sauce, salads, with fresh mozzarella and garden tomatoes, there is still plenty left over. This is when you make a pesto for either Italian bread, or even pasta. And it is really simple. You do not want to cook it. It is to be served as fresh as possible. This can be done entirely in the food processor. If you choose to use it for Italian bread or bruschetta, this is perfect. If you choose to use it for pasta, just mix it in and make sure all the pasta is coated. While the pasta will obviously be hot, you do not want to finish this in a hot pan.
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts or crushed walnuts
- 4 tablespoons fresh grated parmesan cheese
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup or 2-3 ounces extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
Pick or gather the basil and wash it well. If you don’t have a garden, the supermarket “live” basil plants work just as well, if you can get at least 20 leaves out of it. I like the hydroponic ones. They are the freshest, largest and seem to last the longest out on the window sill as long as you change the water and give it plenty of sun.
What pasta you serve it with from here, is your choice. Traditionally it is with a ridged short tube pasta like penne, but I prefer cavatelli. It should be a pasta or shape which “grabs” and holds on to the pasta you choose, but of course, anything works.