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Basic Basil Pesto Sauce
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Vicky Bryant

Serves/Makes:1 cup (more or less)

  • 2 cups (475 ml) fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) good-quality olive oil (can use 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) toasted pine nuts
  • 2 or more garlic cloves, peeled (use more to taste)
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) fresh grated Parmesan cheese (no green can stuff) (can use 3/4 cup)
  • lime juice (needs to be some sort of acid, lemon, vinegar, etc. - I like lime the best)
  • salt to taste
  • Process in food processor or blender.
  • Can be done with mortar and pestle also; but, takes a lot of "elbow".
  • Place garlic in machine and process to break up a bit.
  • Add basil, toasted pine nuts, lime juice and parmesan cheese.
  • Process until broken down into chunks.
  • With machine running drizzle in olive oil to emulsify and add desired amount of oil for the consistency you are looking for.
  • Stop and taste as you are adding the oil and add salt, or more garlic, or more lime juice, or whatever taste you want more of.
  • This is where it gets to be your own recipe and you can adjust it accordingly.
If too salty add more lime juice (or some sort of acid). If too much acid add a little salt. You can also substitute toasted pecans or walnuts for the pine nuts. When nuts are toasted it brings out more of the flavor so I always toast mine for pesto. To make the cream sauce you mentioned I would add heavy cream to a saute pan, let reduce until thicker, salt and pepper it. Add the pesto to this sauce and you will have your pesto cream sauce. When storing in refrigerator, place plastic wrap directly on the pesto, pressing down so no air reaches pesto. This will keep the nice green color and prevent it from turning a brownish color. If keeping for a few days before using place a layer of olive oil on top of the pesto and do same thing with plastic wrap. You can experiment with other herbs by replacing the basil with cilantro and using on fish or chicken, you can use rosemary, and thyme, and use as a lamb crust, etc. Sometimes when using these other herbs I have found that leaving the Parmesan cheese out is helpful when using as a coating and then baking.

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