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photo of basil growing in plantersChef Paolo Vasapolli uses basil from his home herb garden to make pesto.

Recipe offers choice of techniques to produce pesto

Making pesto is a delicious way to preserve basil, says Paolo Vasapolli.

Executive chef in Food and Catering Services, he suggests a recipe that will last weeks if properly refrigerated, and longer if frozen.

The condiment is a classic on pasta but also works as a dip or sandwich spread, bringing the taste of summer garden herbs to your table.

Fresh Basil Pesto

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (1 L) lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup (125 mL) walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1½ tsp (7 mL) coarse sea salt
  • 1 cup (250 mL) freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 cup (250 mL) extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

Traditionally, crushing all ingredients with a mortar and pestle results in the best pesto, Vasapolli says. Mash the garlic and salt in a mortar until it’s the texture of a paste. Add basil, crushing the leaves until they are incorporated into the paste. Slowly add the oil, nuts, and cheese.

The chef offers two alternative methods:

  1. For a smoother consistency, chop basil, walnuts, garlic, and salt in a food processor, then pulse in the cheese and slowly drizzle in the olive oil.
  2. Chopping by hand yields a coarser texture. Cut together the basil, walnuts, and garlic on a large board, transfer to a jar and add the cheese and olive oil, finishing with salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Seal the jar and shake well to mix it all the ingredients together.

To store for several weeks, top with olive oil so that the pesto is completely covered and refrigerate.

Find more recipes — as well as a place to submit your own — on the Healthy Eating website.