The potted basil we planted a few months ago on our balcony is going crazy! Whatever shall I do? Why, make pesto, of course! Pesto is a versatile sauce that can be put on almost anything! Veggies, chicken, pasta, pizza, get pesto creative! We had a meatless Monday last week with roasted veggies (drizzle chopped veg with olive oil on a baking sheet, salt, pepper, then 450 for 25-30 min, stirring/flipping at the halfway point), pesto pasta, and a pesto caprese salad. The pasta was perfectly al denté and the pesto so garlicky and salty that we didn’t even miss the meat!
Many reasons exist why I love my neighborhood. I can see my favorite restaurant, Rolf & Daughters, from my office. Walk around the courtyard, stumble down the stairs, and you’ve arrived. (Actually, you most likely would be stumbling back up the stairs after you’ve eaten and imbibed a few cocktails.) Another reason, the Lazzaroli Pasta Shop is 2 blocks away. The Hubs and I have conquered homemade pasta, it’s fun, but man, what a process with major advance planning! So nice to have this place in your back pocket for a quick solution to homemade perfect pasta. Lazzaroli’s is a family owned Italian market featuring not only fresh cut pastas, but also homemade sauces, amazing homemade mozzarella cheese, and other specialty Italian items. Their motto is, “pasta is the center of our universe”. Awesome. For last night’s meal, I opted for their hand cut rigatoni noodles.
Also, Lazzaroli’s had a special treat yesterday. Locally grown, fresh, San Marzano tomatoes! I’ve never before had a San Marzano tomato that wasn’t from a can, so I was super excited.
To get started with your pesto process, you are going to need a TON of basil leaves. Ok, not an actual ton, but at least 4 cups worth, loosely packed. I learned that if you trim the stalks from the sides and bottom, your basil will grow tall. If you trim from the middle, you’ll have a rounder basil plant. Common sense? Yep! Cut your basil then stop to admire how beautiful the light is falling, so much so that you MUST take another photo.
Pick and wash the leaves and get the pesto party started!
- 4 cups washed basil leaves
- 3/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
- 3-4 cloves smashed garlic*
- 1/2 cup olive oil + more for drizzling until desired consistency is achieved
- salt & pepper
Add the first 6 ingredients to your food processor (or blender, or immersion blender container). About the *garlic, my mom doesn’t like fresh garlic, it’s too strong for her. The Hubs, however, thinks there’s no such thing as “too much garlic”. Use your own garlic discretion. Start pulsing the first 6 ingredients and add the 1/2 cup of olive oil. Drizzle more olive oil until you are pleased with the pesto’s consistency. You should use a spatula to scrape down the sides of your food processor a few times until the consistency is right.
I took my fresh San Marzano tomatoes and made a caprese salad with fresh Lazzaroli’s mozzarella. I instead of fresh basil, I drizzled the pesto overtop. I got a little over-excited and over-drizzled the pesto, but still… NOM NOM NOM.
As you are cooking your pasta, scoop out half a cupful of the pasta water. When you are ready to mix your finished pasta with pesto, spoon in some of the pasta water a few tablespoons at a time. It will thicken your sauce a bit and make it stick especially well to the pasta. Serve and collect accolades.