Submitted by Emily McGourty
To me, pesto tastes like sunshine. It brings me back to the many childhood summers I spent picking basil from my garden and watching my mother use her food processor to transform the big green leaves into a magical topping that I added to everything. To this day, I prefer my mom's pesto to any other! Luckily, it only takes a few moments to prepare once you have the ingredients together, so it's a quick treat that can be enjoyed at home.
Traditional Basil Pesto
- 3 cups fresh basil, washed and patted dry, lightly packed
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup walnuts, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
Combine all ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor. Cover, and slowly pour in the oil while pulsing the processor. Pulse until you reach the desired consistency.
Use same ingredients and instructions as the Basil Pesto, but swap 4 cups of arugula for the 3 cups of basil. This makes for a peppery and delicious alternative!
- Pesto keeps for a week in the refrigerator, or months in the freezer. Growing up, my mother would make huge batches and we'd freeze many containers to use throughout the fall and winter.
- My mother's original recipe calls for pine nuts instead of walnuts. I prefer walnuts because the taste is still fantastic but they are less expensive and a better nutritional choice. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, and may help lower LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, and the risk of some cancers.
- I prefer my pesto to be more chunky than oily; if you prefer a creamier texture, add up to ¼ cup more olive oil to the batch.
- Pesto is a fantastic addition to many foods. Try them on pasta or pizza, layered with mozzarella and tomatoes, as a sandwich spread instead of mayonnaise, and even mixed into mashed potatoes!
Emily McGourty is the LIS/Client Services Supervisor in the Faulkner Hospital laboratory. McGourty is pursuing her Master's degree in Food and Nutrition at Framingham State University.