Kitchen Wisdom Gluten Free Pesto of Basil is a flavorful classic country sauce, perfect for the end of season abundant harvest of many herbs, including Basil. Pleasing and summery, this delicious sauce is fantastic on pasta, salad, greens of almost any sort, fish, poultry, sandwiches and more. One Basil bunch usually makes the perfect amount for a meal. This is the time of year that Basil is at its peak abundance, I quadrupled this recipe and stored it in a few ways.
The word pesto is from the Italian word pestare, meaning to pound or crush. Macerating herbs or nuts is a pesto. The most common pesto in the states is that made from Basil, however, I encourage you to try other herbs and nuts: like a pesto Italian flat leaf parsley; or a pesto of walnuts.
I use grated pecorino romano, you should use whichever hard grated Italian Cheese pleases you. A delicious vegan alternative is to increase the nuts by one tablespoon and use 2 teaspoons of lemon instead of the cheese. Prepared with lemon in place of cheese also lends basil pesto to freezing quite well. My friend, Tammy Hudson, who owns Tajenus Organic Herbs and Vegetables (St. Albans, VT), always makes it this way. The flavorful and aromatic Basil for this Pesto recipe was courtesy of Tammy – Thanks Tammy!
Pignoli, or pine nuts, are the edible seeds of a pine tree. The pine tree (also known in America’s South West as piňon or pinyon tree) releases its harvest sparingly. Seeds large enough for humans can take up to 3 years to grow to fruition and the tree is very sensitive to environmental changes. Therefore, the seeds often cost a King’s ransom. I have found basil pesto companions well with many nuts and seeds: walnuts, almonds and sunflower seeds to name a few. Use what you have handy; just remember the way our body receives the protein and the nutrients in the nut, requires we eat nuts and seeds which aren’t rancid (which mostly happens to old nuts, fried nuts or nuts not stored properly). Storage is key to a healthy nut or seed. I store my nuts in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid in a cool dark cabinet which is not in direct exposure to the sun. Storing raw nuts in the refrigerator is also a healthy and flavorful method. I also purchase raw nuts and seeds to eat them raw or toast them with flavorings. I eat them within a couple of months of purchase. This keeps the nut or seed at optimal nutrition for consumption.
Basil Pesto storage requires a thin layer of olive oil at the top to seal in the pesto, otherwise it will turn a dark color with a bitter taste. Hot process canning of basil pesto, will yield a very dark and sometimes bitter basil. I prefer instead to use the refrigerator for storage. I place a few tablespoons in small jelly jars, top with a drizzle of Olive oil which completely covers the basil, and place in the refrigerator with its tight fitting lid. It keeps for a few weeks this way and is really great on a work night after a long day. I also freeze pesto, using lemon instead of cheese and completely covered with a thin layer of olive oil to allow for frozen storage for a few months.
Pesto of Basil yields approximately ¾ cup
1 bunch Basil (about 3 cups)
3-4 tablespoons Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Pignoli (pine nuts)
1 tablespoon Grated Pecorino Romano
Wash and the basil, remove the leaf from the large stems and remove any new budding leaves at the top. Pat dry, set aside.
Peel garlic and place in bowl of food processor; process for a few seconds, until garlic is macerated.
Add the basil, process for 5 seconds. Add a pinch of salt. Add Pignoli, process for a few seconds.
Drizzle 2 1/2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil over the basil and process a moment.
Add the grated cheese. Process until completely combined. Top with a drizzle of olive oil to completely cover and seal from air exposure, set aside for use with pasta or vegetables.
“Pesto of Basil” by Liz Conforti, Forget What You Know About Wheat(c) 2016
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