Thursday, August 09, 2018

Fresh Basil in Pesto


Most years I plant basil seeds in a wide and somewhat shallow planter. Some years the basil does well and fills up the planter. Some years I get a few spindly plants. This year the basil is happy and the planter is packed and the plants are getting tall. Time to use them and a great way to use basil is in pesto. Normally I'd make a mixture of basil, pine nuts,olive oil and parmesan cheese, with some salt and pepper added to taste.

Now that cheese is in my past, I decided to try making it without parmesan. I used fresh lemon juice and lemon zest to add some zing and some almond flour for body. Of course the star is the basil, which is as it should be. We had it mixed with some potato gnocchi that were a bit unstable so that half turned to mashed potatoes when heated in simmering water. It was a new brand of gnocchi. Wonderful in taste but I think I'll go back to the more stable kind.

The pesto was just right...lots of basil flavor heightened by the lemon and mellowed by the nuts. I toasted the pine nuts a little too much but with all that basil you would never know. The olive oil wasn't the real fancy kind used for finishing...it would be wasted for the same reason...it's all about the basil. You could taste the lemon, mostly as an afternote. A touch of salt was necessary. There is still enough in the fridge for another pasta or gnocchi dish...YAY!

No Cheese Pesto

1 cup, packed, fresh basil leaves...stems discarded
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1/3 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon lemon zest
juice from a lemon
1/3 cup olive oil, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor bowl fitted with the steel blade place the basil, pine nuts, almond flour, lemon zest and lemon juice. Process until fairly smooth, scraping down sides as needed. With machine running, use the feed tube and add the olive oil in a thin stream until pesto is to your liking. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve at once.

Leftover can be stored in a small glass jar. Pour a little additional olive oil gently to create a thin layer of oil on top of the pesto. This keep air out and prevents the pesto from turning brown.

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