I developed this for a local contest and won! The roasting of the garlic and pine nuts is what does it. It makes a nuttier, mellow pesto without the raw garlic taste. My daughter and her friends like this better, too ....of course they're all kindergarten... :) but our friends from Italy approve too. (And dang, they are picky! But I love cooking for them :) Blanching the basil is optional, but recommended if you want to keep it for a bit or freeze it. (Mmmm....taste of summer in the dead of January....) I like to use this for chicken and pasta and maybe some pesto bread the next day, stirred into risotto,....you know the possibilities are endless!
- 4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed, washed well
- 1⁄2 cup pine nuts, toasted until golden, cooled, and chopped
- 1⁄2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated (REAL parmagiana makes the biggest difference...)
- 1 head garlic (yes, HEAD, not clove!)
- 1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil (more or less)
- chicken broth, if necessary, to thin to desired consistency
- Slice the root end off the garlic and brush with some olive oil Roast garlic, wrapped in foil at 375 for about half an hour. It should be extremely soft and golden brown. Squeeze all the garlic from the cooled head to add to the recipe. (You can also just peel garlic and slowly saute in olive oil until golden.)
- OPTIONAL STEP--- Have ready a bowl of ice water. In a saucepan of boiling salted water blanch basil, a handful at a time, 2 seconds, transferring with a slotted spoon to bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Drain basil in a sieve and pat dry. This prolongs the life of the pesto sauce and makes it better for freezing.
- In a food processor or with an immersion blender, purée basil with remaining ingredients until smooth and season with salt and pepper. Makes about a cup and a half -- .