Whenever I go to the Farmer’s Market I always wonder why I don’t go more. The main reason I went this time was to get some local small-ranch, grass-only beef to compare with the La Censa I got sent. That mission was somewhat successful – I was not able to mirror the cuts exactly since our local ranch is running low on what it has from the single cow or so it slaughters at a time.
But I naturally shopped around as well. Here’s what we got: 2 pounds lovely white peaches – perfect in every way. Two pints of raspberries so fragrant you could smell them from ten yards away. Two pints of blackberries. Two pounds of rich, juicy pluots. A pound of crisp, fresh spinach. A pound of teeny tiny button crimini mushrooms. And the big score – 3 pounds of basil at $3 per pound. Do you know how much basil a pound of basil is?
Half of it is already pesto – made simply and cleanly. Here are the proportions. I am sacreligious and use a blender because – well I have a life to live too. I also use walnuts because walnuts are a real local nut and although pinenuts ought to be they aren’t so much.
2 really packed cups of basil leaves.
4 cloves fresh garlic
3/4 cup of the best olive oil you can afford to use
1 heaping teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Multiply as many times as necessary – I start with one batch and leave it in the blender and keep adding until the blender can’t blend it any more.
Blend it all together in a food processor or blender. Most recipes make this seem easy – it isn’t – it takes a lot of work for your blender to really puree all those leaves. I use a rubber spatula and pulse mode and keep scraping down and it takes a total of about ten minutes.
So – a few notes. First – no parmesan. I am of the school that says add the parmesan when serving. So that’s what I do. Second, lemon juice? Well – I think it improves the taste and it helps the pesto hold its color longer. Once made, you can freeze or keep in the fridge for quite a while but you will want to cover with a small amount of olive oil to prevent oxidation. Finally – the nut allergic can make a passable imitation using toasted breadcrumbs. The consistency won’t quite match but overall it will work.