Nothing says summer to me like the scent of basil in my garden. This is the most frequent way I use it in the kitchen. Here is the original recipe from The Flavor of Italy, published in 1965.
- Finely chop 5-6 cloves of garlic.
- Remove the stems from a bunch of fresh basil. Most Italian recipes call for 'a good handful' - about 2 cups of leaves will do.
- Chop the leaves with a little salt, as this helps keep them green. A little parsley added to the basil also contributes color to theis sauce which should be fresh green.
- Work the garlic and leaves into a paste in a mortar and add 2 Tablespoons of pine nuts.
- Add 1/3 cup grated Parmesean or Pecorino cheese.
- Continue working the mixture into a very smooth paste.
- Gradually add 1/4 cup olive oil, stirring well until the mixture has the consistancy of creamed butter or mayonnaise.
Now, I actually do all the work in my food processor, starting with the basil and garlic. I usually omit the parsley, but I think it would be good. With the food processor running, I drizzle the oil in last. Often at the end of the summer I will place the pesto in ice cube trays to freeze and use during the winter.
When visiting with my Italian cousins, I learned to add a bit of the pasta cooking water with an extra splace of olive oil to a good spoonful of the pesto, stir it together and then add the pasta. YUM! Enjoy!