A recipe for pesto may not be anything new, but anyone who keeps an herb garden probably has basil coming out their ears by now, and it's time to cut it all back before it goes to seed. Sure, there's pistou or caprese salad, but really what do you do with all that basil but make pesto?
It's the time of year when nature is throwing produce at you so fast that all you can do is reach for those time-tested recipes, besides, you're probably too busy eating corn on the cob and tomatoes to really think about cooking something unless it screams for your attention. Like that giant bush of basil in the backyard. This year I grew purple basil, and I thought I'd mix things up with a good dose of pistachios instead of pine nuts (because that's what I had on hand). And then I really mixed things up and added some lemon zest. I know. The Heresy.
But tossed with pasta or smeared on a sandwich, it was an indiscretion well appreciated. And stay tuned, because I've got a recipe for all that seasonally abundant mint coming up soon.
Purple Basil and Pistachio Pesto
1 large clove garlic, any green center removed
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed purple basil leaves
3 heaping tablespoons roughly-chopped pistachios
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
about half a lemon's worth of fresh lemon zest
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1. In a mortar and pestle, or food processor with the motor running, puree the garlic and salt. Gradually add the basil and then the pistachios, crushing or processing everything into a rough paste. Grate the lemon zest into the bowl. Pour in the cheese and finally enough oil to bring the pesto to the consistency of heavy cream. To store, pack into a jar and top with a small level of olive oil- this prevents the pesto from discolouring.