Andrew and I grow basil in our backyard and since we planted it I’ve been wanting to make homemade pesto. Over the weekend I finally did just that and now I’m hooked. I used this batch for two different recipes. Saturday night we had 3 couples over for dinner and games. I served this amazing pesto over grilled chicken (that was marinaded in olive oil, garlic, lemon, salt & pepper) and rice pilaf with almonds. It was a hit; everyone loved it. The following afternoon Andrew and I made chicken pesto sandwiches which was equally delicious. I’m plan on making another batch today to serve over sauteed tilapia tonight and pasta tomorrow night.
Lemon Basil Pesto (by Giada De Laurentiis) (makes 1 cup)
2 packed cups fresh basil leaves
⅓ cup toasted pine nuts* see Cook’s Note (I substituted walnuts and toasted them in a saute pan)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from ½ a large lemon)
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
Zest of 1 large lemon
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
⅓ cup (1 ½ ounces) grated Parmesan cheese
In a blender or food processor, pulse the basil, pine nuts, lemon juice, garlic, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until finely chopped. With the machine running, gradually add the oil until the mixture is smooth and thick. Add the cheese and pulse until just incorporated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
Giada’s note: To toast the pine nuts, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 6 to 8 minutes until lightly toasted. Cool completely before using.
Grilled chicken pesto sandwich: nutty bread + ricotta + parmesan cheese + lemon basil pesto + arugula + grilled chicken