Pest-oh!

Liberal medicinal herb laws notwithstanding, the above baggies contain basil pesto. Really.

Though we could be hiding anything in our tangled garden at this point. The black cherry tomato plant overwhelms and the herbs have gotten all leggy and flower-topped, which makes for happy bees and not-so-tender leaves. Temps threaten to graze 90 today but inevitably we'll get a killing frost, and the herbs, tough as they are, will be toast.

Hence the wrestling with the Cuisinart. Fresh basil, costing what it does in the dead of winter, well, an hour or two in the kitchen is a small price to pay for some easy weeknight dinners come January.

Feeling in a bit of a pesto rut, I consulted Bittman for inspiration. I love how he offers loose formulas and ideas not dogma. His pages on pesto, for example, include notes on basil, dill, mint, parsley, arugala and cilantro varieties and how to serve. More on some of these other condiments later.

Back to the basil at hand. Classic Genovese Pesto, he writes, is made with a mortar and pestle. I'm sure it's divine. I'm sure it's superior, but I registered for a Cuisinart for a reason. Moving right along. 

He also writes that one needn't add cheese to the mix, plus his ratio of basil to nuts seemed high but intriguing.

With a food processor there is no labor to pesto, except for processing the vegetable matter. The whole mess has to be washed and the leaves and flowers stripped from their woody stems, a dreary, painstaking chore. Then whirrrrrrr and it's done.

The result? About a cup and a half. 

And he was right about the nuts.

Instructions follow:

Wash and stem about four cups basil leaves.

Sautee 2 cloves garlic in a dollop of olive oil.

Toss a healthy handful of walnuts into the food processor.

Add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup olive oil.

Toss everything in the food processor with a good pinch of salt.

Grind up. Taste. Adjust seasoning. Serve with fresh pasta.

Enjoy. 

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