Pesto



Ingredients

4 cups well packed basil leaves
6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 cup pine nuts or walnuts (or a combination of the two)
1½ cups extra virgin olive oil salt and pepper
1 cup freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese (or a combination of the two)
Method:

1. Place the basil leaves and garlic in a food processor or blender and process until the basil is finely chopped.

2. add the nuts and process until the nuts are also finely chopped.

3. With the motor running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream. after the oil is incorporated, turn off the machine and add the salt and pepper to taste. Add the cheese and process until combined.

4. if not using immediately, store in an airtight container with a thin coating of olive oil on top to keep the pesto from going dark. Pesto covered with oil will keep well in the refrigerator for 2 weeks

HINTS AND TIPS:

* You will needcutting board, cook’s knife, cup measure and food processor or blender.

* 4 cups of basil leaves will require about 2 large bunches of basil. If this seems too much, simply halve the recipe.

* Using just pecorino cheese and increasing the quantity of garlic to 8 cloves will make a more intense, sharply flavoured pesto.

* Toasting the pine nuts will also add flavour. To do this, place the pine nuts on a baking tray and roast in the oven at 200ºC, tossing every 34 minutes until evenly brown. This is a job that requires the cook to
stay in the kitchen as the pine nuts will burn easily.

* The amount of olive oil can be adjusted depending on the desired final consistency (thicker or thinner). Try adding or removing ½ cup olive oil.

* Mix 1 tablespoon pesto through 4 tablespoons softened butter and keep in the fridge. It can be sliced and placed on top of hot meats just before serving.

* Cut a chicken breast in half, spread with pesto and a generous slice of camembert cheese and a thin slice of prosciutto, secure with a toothpick and bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes until the chicken starts to
turn golden.

* Use pesto as a sandwich spread.

* Pesto can be frozen for up to 6 months. The easiest way to control portions is by freezing in ice cube trays, and once frozen, transferring to a clip lock bag.

* Serve as part of an antipasto platter.

* Add a generous dollop to minestrone.

* Toast good quality bread in a moderate oven, spread with the pesto and serve as  crostini.

* Add pesto to roasted asparagus, stir through gnocchi, risotto, scrambled eggs or omelettes, or mix through a potato salad.

 * For the advanced cook, add more parmesan and less oil, and use as a filling for homemade tortellini or ravioli.

 * Use on a pizza base instead of tomato sauce.

 * Chopped basil browns quickly so add a layer of oil to the top of the jar to prevent it from discolouring, and the pesto will keep longer because air is kept out

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