My basil has been attempting to take over my entire garden. Okay, exaggeration… but it was looking quite fierce compared to the nearby tomato plants. I went out on Sunday to prune it, and ended up bringing in nearly four cups of basil leaves! Insane!
I was far too lazy to bike to the store and pay a stupidly-high price for mediocre pine nuts, so instead I toasted some walnuts and put together this lovely pesto. Delish with chicken, pasta, on baguette or other french bread, for crostata, or even on whole-wheat Ritz crackers with a little extra sprinkle of grated parmesan. [Puttin’ on the Ritz? Guilty as charged.]
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/3 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
3-4 fresh garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
To toast nuts: Set oven to 400 degrees. Coarsely chop nuts, and spread out evenly on a baking sheet. Bake on the top rack for 3-4 minutes, then shake the nuts around on the pan. Do this two or three times, and be sure to take them out before they smell like they’re burning!
Combine the basil and walnuts, and pulse a few times in a food processor. Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.
Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese, fresh black pepper, and a generous pinch of [kosher!] salt, and pulse again until blended. Can be served immediately, but it’s really good if chilled in a tupperware or covered bowl in the fridge for a few hours, just to let the flavors really blend.