Basil pesto sauce

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Preparing pesto is quite easy if you’re using a food processor. It is better to  mash the garlic with a fork instead of blending it with the rest of the ingredients. It has to have a smooth consistency in order for it to distribute evenly throughout the pesto. Add a little bit of salt on top of the crushed garlic cloves. Salt absorbs the juice which would otherwise be lost and creates friction that speeds up the process.

Also, don’t skip on toasting the nuts, which brings out the flavor and provides a nice crunch. You can either spread them on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven or on a stove top in a heavy skillet without any oil. Make sure to shake the skillet constantly so that they don’t burn.

Ingredients:

A pound of basil leaves (2.2 pounds with the stems), washed and dried thoroughly
10 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup (2.6 oz) pine nuts
1+1/2 cups (5.3 oz) walnut halves
2+1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
3+1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic (10 cloves)

 

Heat walnuts and pine nuts in a dry, heavy skillet over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes or until they’re golden brown and give off a rich, toasty fragrance. Stir or toss frequently for even toasting. Remove from pan to cool.
Chop the garlic cloves finely, sprinkle a teaspoon of salt on top and mash to a fine paste with a fork.

 

Place garlic and half of the basil leaves in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds.

 

Add the rest of the basil leaves and with the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed.
Add the Parmesan cheese and toasted nuts and puree for one more minute.

You can use it the right away. If you’re going to store pesto for a short period of time, place in a jar with a thin film of olive oil on top. You can also divide it into 1-cup portions and store in the freezer for a few months. Make sure to defrost in the refrigerator overnight.