When basil is plentiful at the farmers’ market or in your garden, take advantage by making pesto, which is the perfect accompaniment for pasta and is also great drizzled over grilled vegetables. In this version, lemon zest and juice add bright flavor.
2 cups (2 oz./60 g) packed fresh basil leaves (from about 1 bunch)
6 Tbs. (1 1/2 oz./45 g) grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs. toasted pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, smashed
6 Tbs. (3 fl. oz./90 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
In a blender or food processor, combine the basil, Parmesan, pine nuts and garlic and pulse until finely chopped. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the lemon zest and juice. Alternatively, using a mortar and pestle, grind together the pine nuts, garlic and lemon zest until a thick paste forms. Add the basil and continue to grind until smooth. Transfer to a larger bowl and stir in the olive oil, lemon juice and Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Use at once, or cover with plastic wrap, pressing it onto surface, and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Serves 4 to 6 (with 1 lb./500 g pasta).
Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma Cooking for Friends: Fresh Ways to Entertain with Style, by Alison Attenborough and Jamie Kimm