Basil Pesto!

One of the joys of having a container of basil growing on your patio is that you get to trim the plants.  What is one to do with a quart container of basil leaves?  Pesto!

I like to keep my pesto simple.  It’s a varying mixture of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, and good olive oil.  Sometimes I want a little more garlic, so a little more garlic goes into the food processor.  If I have garlic scapes in the crisper, in go the garlic scapes.

I also do not like to process my pesto until it is uniformly smooth.  I like there to be discernible shreds of basil, bits of pine nuts, and shards of garlic. I am sure that there is an “authentic pesto mafia” out there who will decry anything that deviates from the age old strictures of some mythical Italian grandmother’s recipe that defines pesto.  I could care less.  When food tastes good, it is good.  Period.

My daughter is a pasta fanatic.  It does not matter what kind—lasagna, casseroles, mac and cheese, you name it and she likes it.  One of our go to weeknight dinners is creamy basil pesto pasta.  It’s supremely easy!

  1. Cook one pound of pasta per the packages directions.  I use short pasta because it is easier for little hands to spear with a fork.  Long noodles may be fun, but the mess is not.
  2. Melt four tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in four tablespoons of flour until smooth.  Whisk in two cups of milk slowly until combined.  You could use skim milk like me or anything up until whole milk.  Just use what is in the fridge.  Goats’ milk?  Perhaps.
  3. Whisk regularly until the sauce thickens.  Yes, this is a take on a classic béchamel sauce.  I love me some mother sauces because they are so versatile.
  4. Once the sauce thickens whisk in the pesto.  The amount is to your liking.  Last night we used the entire ramekin pictured above.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Combine with pasta and serve topped with parmesan cheese.

That’s it.  Often we will incorporate other things like bacon or peas into the pasta as well.  It just sort of depends on what strikes our fancy that evening.  Sometimes I think my daughter is the mad scientist of food combinations because no flavor combination is off limits.

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