In attempt to use the beautiful leaves from my fresh basil plant before it succumbs to the South Carolina summer heat, I turned to making a large batch of traditional basil pesto, which in turned livened up a week of healthy eating.
Think pesto can find itself only on top of a hearty bowl of pasta? Think again. In my post-partum life, I've been craving grilled meats and veggies like crazy. Seriously! When the opportunity came for an order anything, "eat your heart out" type of meal soon after giving birth, all I could ask for was something "beefy" and dark greens (after all that blood loss, I wanted some iron, dammit!). So it was my desire to spruce up this Paleo-like diet that my fiancé and I have gotten stuck on lately that led me to dig up my perfect pesto recipe.
Now, anytime I had ever made pesto before, it did not turn out to be the vibrant green mixture that the misleading color-filters on Giada de Laurentiis's shows had promised (I'm sorry, Everyday Italian producers, but I've yet to find a carrot that is "cadmium red"). In fact, it always turned out to be a disappointing color of a brownish, dark green. While fully satisfied with the taste, the color was a let-down.
That is, until I picked up this tip from famed Napa chef Michael Chiarello. His secret: blanche the basil leaves for 30 seconds and then "shock" them in an ice water bath before blending. And voila! Perfectly green pesto every time. And sure enough, it works like a bad habit. Something about the blanching process keeps the leaves from oxidizing and browning once blended.
So here it is, my recipe for perfectly green pesto... now truth be told, I did have a moment of indulgence and I mixed it in with a generous portion of spaghetti noodles and a heap of shaved Parmesan one day for lunch. Pure perfection.
Perfectly Green Pesto
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 large garlic clove
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 cup good extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a light boil. Drop in the fresh basil leaves and remove after 30 seconds, submerging into an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Gently drain and pat dry.
- In a food processor, pulse the blanched basil leaves, garlic clove and toasted pine nuts until blended.
- Next, slowly drizzle in the olive oil while running the food processor continuously.
- Add in the Parmigiano Reggiano, adding more or less to your own taste and consistency preferences, and pulse until just blended.
Top on your food of choice and enjoy! Buon appetito!