As the weather cools down, sweet basil begins to go to flower and seed – eventually dying off over winter (in cool and temperate regions of Australia).
Before the delicious leaves brown off and die, NOW is the time to make basil pesto. Here’s how I make mine…..
1) Pick your basil leaves (tender stems are fine too)! Try not to squash or bruise the leaves, it releases their flavour….and you want the flavour in your pesto!
2) Some people swear that you should never wash basil leaves, because it can also cause flavour loss. However if you do it gently and carefully, I honestly haven’t noticed a difference – and NOT washing your basil, I reckon can result in some unwanted added protein or grit in your pesto….eeww!
Lay the washed leaves on some tea towels to dry.
3) Use a salad spinner to get rid of any excess water on the leaves, before cramming them into a food processor, with the chopping blade attached. **You might need to stuff the bowl full, turn it on to chop up the basil, then add more leaves, turn it on, add more leaves etc….to fit it all in!**
4) In my opinion there is no set “recipe” for basil pesto. I always add the same ingredients, but base the quantities on taste.
With the food processor running add:
* grated parmesan cheese (I used about 120g for 2 bowls full of freshly picked basil leaves)
* 1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
* 100-200g of pine nuts, lightly dry toasted
* olive oil (as much as needed to make it form a nice spreadable paste)
* salt & pepper to taste.
5) Once you are happy with the flavour, spoon the mix into sterilised jars, leaving 1cm of space so you can top the pesto with a layer of olive oil. This layer of olive oil stops the pesto from browning. Store in the fridge until you are ready to use!
**Every time you take a spoonful or 2 out of the jar, smooth down the surface of the pesto and re-cover with about 1cm of olive oil. This keeps the air out, which causes your pesto to brown**