The inspiration for a good meal comes from so many places; family, friends, fresh markets, and even the occasional "big box" store. My true goal here is to give back and share some of the inspirations that have been shared with me.
Tonight's dinner is proof that a gorgeous dinner doesn't have to cost a pretty penny. The inspiration came from our little garden that is just on the verge of gifting us some fresh herbs & veggies. The basil plant has gotten ahead of the game and needed to be cut back significantly. So, what to do with a handful of basil so it doesn't go to waste? Pesto!
Served with Zuchini "noodles" and a carved $5 rotisserie chicken we are having a gourmet dinner for a fast food price!
Do you have one of those little drink blenders? It makes it so fast & easy, you will never buy pre-made pesto again. Don't have one? Just use your food processor or regular blender.
For the record, most Pestos use pine nuts, but they have gotten outrageously expensive. I substituted pecans and it worked out great. I believe that the best recipes come from what you have on hand.
Here's how the pesto happened...
Fresh Basil Pesto
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts or pecans
1 large clove garlic
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
Olive oil, enough to emulsify
There is no great secret to the combination here. Put the ingredients in the blender and add olive oil. Blend until emulsified. I usually start with what I think is enough olive oil and wind up adding an extra tablespoon or two.
What else can you do with pesto?
Add a little white wine or balsamic vinegar for a pesto vinegarette salad dressing
Marinate chicken in it, then bake or grill
Toss with your favorite pasta & sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (add fresh veggies for a nice pasta primavera
Make a tomato & fresh Mozzerella plate and drizzle with pesto
Use as a dip for French bread
Store tightly sealed at room temp for a few days or if you need it to last longer, refrigerate (the olive oil will solidify a bit, but let it sit at room temp for a while brfore serving). If you have a bumper crop, and want to make a lot, it freezes very well. Freeze it in ice cube trays them release into freezer bags to have measured amounts.
Hope you enjoy this beautiful pesto and find lots of ways to add it to your summer menus!