Fresh basil always makes me high…high on the intense delicious flavour, which makes me crave for more and more of it. I’ve used fresh Basil in a number of dishes before and simply can't get enough of it!
I got my first taste of Basil Pesto, when I had the Mediterranean Pizza at Scholtzky’s Deli. I thoroughly enjoyed the pesto sauce on the base and while biting into the pizza, I was making a strong mental note to find a recipe for pesto and make it asap!
So the next trip to the Farmers Market, I came back with fresh Basil. I began to look for recipes and most of them I came across called for Pine Nuts, which are pretty expensive for a small quantity. I decided to substitute it with Walnuts instead, since I had a big bag of walnuts in their shells. Basil Pesto was ready in no time!
Gemelli with Basil Walnut Pesto:
Gemelli is a dry pasta which is spiral shaped. The different shapes of pasta always fascinate me and every time I run out of pasta (yes, it happens every now and then :-D) I buy a new shape to try, just for the fun of it :) So this time it was these spiral shaped beauties.
You will need:
1 Cup Gemelli pasta
¼ Cup Basil Walnut pesto (recipe below)
Salt to taste
Boil Gemelli in a pot of salted water, till done. Drain and toss with pesto. Add salt if required. Serve hot. Additional parmesan maybe added on top before serving.
Basil Walnut Pesto:
You will need:
2 Cups packed, Fresh Basil leaves
½ Cup Walnuts, chopped
¾ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Olive Oil as required
2 cloves of Garlic, chopped
In a blender or a food processor, add chopped walnuts and pulse to break the walnuts into smaller finer bits. Now add the garlic and the basil leaves. Blend to combine. Now slowly stream in the olive oil and blend, this loosens the mixture and helps it blend smoothly. Add oil till the mixture has a paste like consistency. Transfer to a bowl, stir in the parmesan cheese. The cheese is salty so taste the pesto before adding more salt.
To store: Transfer the pesto to a clean jar, cover with a thin layer of olive oil and refrigerate if using in a few days, otherwise freeze it. Thaw before using. If frozen, it should last for 2-3 months.
Pesto can be used as a dip, tossed with pasta or even used a pizza sauce. My love for pasta is not unknown, so that is what I used the pesto for.