Basil Pesto

I have always been a huge Basil fan from the very beginning. Sam and Sid not so much. 
Until, one day they sampled the Basil Pesto at Costco

And thus began our saga of love for anything Pesto; anything Basil!

I have lost count of the number of bottles of  Basil Pesto we have downed since the day we first sampled it at Costco.

We have tossed  macaronis and raviolis in Basil Pesto; slathered it on our morning toast; used it as the base sauce for out Quinoa Pizza; swapped out mayo for Basil Pesto on our burger and grilled cheese sandwiches; we have slobbered baked chicken tenders and fish in Basil Pesto; I have even spruced up plain tomato soup with it too!

But never in wildest dream I ever thought that I would be making my very own Homemade Basil Pesto. Not anytime soon.

Thanks to Sam's hard work and green thumb, my almost impossible dream became a reality. Our very first Sweet Italian Basil Plant, not only survived the whole season, it gave me almost 3 cups of Basil Leaves to make my first batch of Homemade Basil Pesto!!!

The plant does looks a little barren now, but I think it might just give me enough for a second batch by the end of fall. At least I can hope... right!

There is nothing uncomplicated about Basil Pesto. It is just as simple as blitzing the Basil leaves, pines nuts and garlic while pouring down Extra Virgin Olive Oil down the feeding chute to emulsify everything together. Salt, pepper and some grated Parmesan is added for flavor and pizzazz. And after one final blitz, you have your Basil Pesto ready to toss, slather, drizzle or slobber anything and everything your heart desires.

I have lightly toasted the Pine Nuts. This heightens the nuttiness of the Pine Nuts and tastes wonderful in the Pesto. Just be careful not to burn those. Pine nuts are denser in oil than most nuts and tend to scorch easily. Go low and slow. Remember to let them cool completely before adding to the Pesto

Now you cannot have Basil Pesto without Basil right? Not only Basil is a deliciously fragrant herb, that can liven up any boring food, it is incredibly good for you too.

Basil have shown unique health-protecting effects in two basic areas: basil's flavonoids and volatile oils. Sweet Italian Basil  has a strong clove scent because of its high concentration of the chemical agent eugenol. The eugenol component of basil's volatile oils has been the subject of extensive study, since this substance can block the activity of an enzyme in the body called cyclooxygenase (COX). This enzyme-inhibiting effect of the eugenol in basil qualifies basil as an "anti-inflammatory" food that can provide important healing benefits along with symptomatic relief for individuals with inflammatory health problems like rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel conditions.

Basil is a very good source of vitamin A and Beta-carotene. Free radical damage is a contributing factor in many other conditions as well, including asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. The beta-carotene found in basil may help to lessen the progression of these conditions while protecting cells from further damage.

Basil is also a good source of magnesium, which promotes cardiovascular health by prompting muscles and blood vessels to relax, thus improving blood flow and lessening the risk of irregular heart rhythms.

Be it homemade or store bought, Basil Pesto remains our favorite condiment. From soups to salads; burgers to sandwiches; pasta to meat and eggs, we have drizzled, slobbered, slathered Basil Pesto on practically everything.

And yes... a little Pesto... makes a world of difference!

What is your favorite way to savor this flavorful sauce called Basil Pesto?

Recipe Snapshot: Basil Pesto 

Makes: 1.5 cups

What I used:
Fresh Basil Leaves - 3 cups (packed), thoroughly washed and drained 

Garlic - 4 -6 fat cloves (depending how garlic crazy person you are!)

Pine Nuts - 1/2 cup, lightly toasted

Parmesan Cheese - 1/4 cup, grated

Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 1/4 cup + 1/4 cup

Salt and Freshly cracked Pepper

What I did:
1. Heat a pan over medium low heat and toast the pine nuts till fragrant and lightly golden. Let it cool completely. 

2. Combine the basil leaves, garlic cloves, toasted pine nuts in a food possessor and pulse continuously until the ingredients are finely chopped.

3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl of the possessor and add the salt, pepper and the grated Parmesan cheese and process until a uniform paste has formed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

4. With the possessor running, stream in the extra virgin olive oil (1/4 cup) in a thin stream. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue blending as needed until the  oil is emulsified into the basil and the pesto looks uniform.

5. Do a taste check and add salt, pepper or cheese as needed, and give one final whiz.

6. Use it right away or store it in a clean glass jar in a refrigerator or freeze it. Before storing away, add another extra 1/4 cup oil (do not mix it in), to create an oil barrier. Air can oxidize the Pesto, making it dull and brown. The oil will prevent the air from touching the pesto and keep it fresh and green. 

7. Enjoy your Basil Pesto on anything and everything!

Notes/Tip: I have lightly toasted the Pine Nuts. This heightens the nuttiness of the Pine Nuts and tastes wonderful in the Pesto. Just be careful not to burn those. Pine nuts are denser in oil than most nuts and tend to scorch easily. Go low and slow. Remember to let them cool completely before adding to the Pesto. 

Diabetic Platter:
Sweet Italian Basil, like most herbs, is loaded with health benefits. In addition to being a rich source of vitamin K, beta carotene, and iron, the plant is known to harness anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. The majority of the great benefits of basil can be attributed to its volatile oils and flavonoids – powerful, plant-based antioxidants that reduce inflammation, help fight aging, and promote healthy arteries. In addition Sweet Italian Basil also:
Improves circulation
Increases immune function
Reduces inflammation
Reduces the oxidation of cholesterol
Protects the heart
Detoxifies the blood


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