All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015
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Pesto is a lovely thing – when used sparingly. I loathe a pesto pasta that is heavy with oily dense pesto – but if the pesto is light & clean & used delicately – it really is yummy.
Traditionally – it is made with pine nuts. I have sworn off pine nuts ever since a friend got “pine mouth.” Pine mouth is a horrid metallic taste that overwhelms your mouth whenever you eat or drink. It is from eating rancid pine nuts. Apparently, pine nuts have a relatively short shelf life & many come from China, Korea, Russia and Vietnam. Nobody seems to really understand pine mouth but there is one easy way to avoid ever getting it – avoid pine nuts. Easy. Pine nuts are rich & greasy & are used way too liberally & frequently – much like sun-dried tomatoes in the eighties. Fuck you, pine nuts. I never like you much, anyway.
So – you can make pesto with almost any other nut – like pecans, walnuts, cashews, pistachios or – as I did here – with almonds. You can toast the nuts or not – it does not matter much.
The real news here is the concept of blanching the basil. I read that it makes for a smoother & more vibrantly green pesto. Vibrant green is nice to photograph – so I blanched my basil. Judge the results yourself. If you wanna skip the blanching – there will be no repercussions. I promise.
Traditionally – real Parmesan is used and I used it here. If you are vegan – just use vegan Parmesan.
Easy Basil Pesto (Vegan or Not)
Makes a lot
6 oz (or 4 packed cups) fresh basil
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (or vegan alternative)
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
S&P to taste
Blanch the basil by submerging it in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Drain & plunge into cold water to stop its cooking. Squeeze the water out.
Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor. I add water in tiny increments to thin it & to facilitate the blending.
Season with S&P.
I put mine into sandwich bags in small portions & froze it for later use. Works great!