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Under 30 Minutes

Basil Pesto

This simple Italian sauce brings summery flavor to all sorts of dishes, including our Pesto Pizzas and Chicken Fettuccine with Pesto Cream Sauce. Pesto is traditionally made with cheese, but it's just as good without (it freezes better, too).

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Yield: Makes 1 3/4 cups

Source: Everyday Food, September 2005

Ingredients

  • 1 cup walnuts or pine nuts
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 8 cups (4 ounces) lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread nuts evenly on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven until golden and fragrant, tossing once, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool completely.

  2. Meanwhile, bring 4 cups salted water to a boil; add basil, and submerge with a spoon. Immediately drain in a colander. Rinse with cold water until cool, then pat basil completely dry in paper towels.

  3. In a food processor, combine nuts, basil, and garlic; season generously with salt and pepper. Process until nuts are finely chopped. With machine running, pour oil in a steady stream through the feed tube; process until smooth. Use immediately, or freeze.

Cook's Notes

When you plan on freezing pesto, cook the basil briefly in salted water before mixing with the other ingredients; this will help preserve its bright color and fresh taste. To freeze, spoon pesto into an ice-cube tray (2 tablespoons per cube); cover with plastic wrap. Freeze overnight, then transfer cubes to a resealable plastic bag; keep up to 6 months. Defrost pesto at room temperature, about 20 minutes (or at 30-second intervals in the microwave). Mash with a fork before using in recipes.

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