One of summer’s best treats is the abundance of basil growing in gardens throughout. Several varieties are growing between houses on Mendenhall – sweet basil, thai basil and lemon basil. For an Italian Market feast, there isn’t any better compliment than big bundles of the sweet stuff. I toss it into practically everything these days – salad dressings, simple pastas and of course – pesto!
With an effort to be a little more frugal, I experimented with using walnuts instead of pine nuts. It turned out quite well and I don’t think anyone noticed the missing pine nuts. Depending on where you buy your cheese and olive oil – this could be a fairly inexpensive concoction. But, I wouldn’t skimp on the quality of ingredients – that is truly what makes pesto so good.
I served small dishes of the pesto on the table to drench crusty bread from Simple Kneads Bakery in Downtown Greensboro. I missed out on a photo because it disappeared so quickly!
Pesto on the Cheap:
- 4 garlic cloves (or less if you like vampires)
- 1 1/2 cups walnuts
- 4 big handfuls of basil
- 1 large handful good freshly ground pecorino romano cheese
- good olive oil
- salt and pepper
- fresh lemon juice
Assembly: The best way to approach this in the order I’ve listed the ingredients. Using a food processor, start by mincing the garlic as small as possible. Add the walnuts and basil until finely ground. From here, you may want to stir by hand to prevent the cheese from getting too warm from the blade. Add the cheese, then olive oil (just to the consistency you are looking for). Taste for seasoning. The cheese is very salty – so beware and cautious with the salt. For a last-minute bite of freshness, squeeze a bit of lemon in.