Basil Pesto (Nut Free)
Who would ever guess that basil is a member of the mint family? Mostly eaten as a tomato and mozzarella enhancing herb, its medicinal qualities abound. Purported to be an anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and antibacterial culinary supplement, it certainly sounds like something truly good for you. A bit against the grain as far as pestos go, this nut free version is perfect for prolific garden basil bunches. Serve slathered on grilled bread, drizzled over roasted vegetables, stirred into pasta, or baked with eggs. This dish is summer at its peak.
If the basil has flowered, do not use it as it will have a bitter, unpleasant taste. Choose a mellow, buttery, fruity extra virgin olive oil (not the expensive drizzling bottle). Greek and Spanish olive oils tend to be less peppery than their Italian cousins and make for reasonably priced olive oil that will complement rather than detract from the delicate flavors in this recipe.
2 cups densely packed basil leaves, stems removed
1/2 cup densely pack spinach leaves, stems removed
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup fruity extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup ground pecorino romano cheese
1/4 cup ground Parmesan Reggiano cheese
1. Put the basil, spinach, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse twice.
2. Begin slowly adding the olive oil through the feed tube and pulse until the basil mixture reaches the desired consistency.
3. Place in a glass container with a lid, season with salt and pepper, and stir in the cheeses. Taste for seasoning, stir in a bit more olive oil if the pesto is too thick or too dry.
4. Finish with a thin layer of olive oil over the top, cover, and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Keeps one week frozen, or six months in the freezer.