I am a late entrant to the basil pesto fan club but I am a loyal fan now. Think of basil pesto as an Italian take on the ubiquitous mint-coriander chutney that is so common in Indian cooking. In fact, I can match ingredient for ingredient between the two recipes! Let's try that out...
Coriander and mint leaves == Basil leaves
Roasted peanuts == Roasted pine nuts
Garlic == Garlic (Well, garlic isn't really a mandatory ingredient for coriander-mint chutney)
Ok, the standard pesto departs from coriander-mint chutney at this point but the important points are covered, don't you think?
So, you start with fresh basil. I picked a bunch from Harry's Farmers Market. The packet mentioned that it's grown hydroponically (not sure what that means), and if I keep the roots submerged in water, it'd last longer.
Chop it finely. Put in the mixer jar.
I didn't have pine nuts at home. So I roasted some walnuts on a skillet (be attentive to the skillet or else you'll end up with a bunch of burnt walnuts!) and used them instead.
Next chop up some garlic and throw that in there as well. Most times, I don't have garlic at home. But this time, I did and so I used it. I am sure purists will disagree but I have made pesto before without any garlic and it tasted perfectly wonderful.
Pesto also contains cheese (mostly Parmesan or Romano, as this recipe mentions). I had paneer at home, and so I used that instead.
Pulse it all together. Don't forget to add salt and pepper. Pour in some olive oil while it's getting pulsed. I bought this brand from Dekalb Farmers Market. You can also see the smaller bottle of chili oil next to it, the Braggs bottle behind and possibly the can of sesame oil towards the right of the picture. Hmmm, just giving a mini-tour of the oils and seasoning cabinet for all of you... :)
You can also add the oil later after the pesto is made. You end up with a shiny and creamy fresh basil pesto that's pure YUMMINESS.
Slather it over toast, toss it with noodles... any other ideas? Let me know in the comments.