Pesto is a favourite in my house and making a homemade one with fresh basil is a complete joy. Homemade means you can control the amount of salt, olive oil and cheese!
I never add in the Parmesan, as I know I tend to add some while serving on top, there isn’t the need of extra cheese inside.
I use this recipe with walnuts, while traditionally Italians use the rich pine nuts, oozing with flavour and calories! I refrain from pine nuts simply because it is too fattening, requires a special trip to the store (leading to procrastination), and frankly, quite expensive (also leading to procrastination!).
Walnuts are a great substitute, because, well, I always have a ton of them lying around the house, the nutritional values are great, and they have a lighter feel than pine nuts.
Walnuts, lemon and basil make a beautiful medley, and is a refreshing twist in pastas, sandwiches and dips.
However, if you do have pine nuts and want to use them, please do – it really is the most authentic way! (Pine nuts are a great source of proteins and fibres, but are calculated at about 190 calories per ounce! Add this with the olive oil – ACK!)
Regarding the garlic – a while back I received a reply from a friend in Atlanta re the tomato + basil pasta with: “12-14 cloves? Hellooo garlic breath!”
I must clarify that these recipes are based on Indian produce and sizes. American vegetable produce are larger in sizes and stronger in tastes as well. One Indian lemon is probably a quarter of a big American Meyer lemon. Garlic cloves must be halved at least, if not further lessened!
ABOUT THE RECIPE
Use the juice of an entire lemon – don’t cheat on this. Grind the ingredients together until you get your desired consistency. I like some of the basil leaves to be a bigger size rather than a mushy paste – but this is entirely personal.
Basil leaves should be fresh and good quality.
If you want to use pine nuts, add in ½ cup of pine nuts, while omitting the walnuts.
This portion makes for a medium mason jar, which can be used to stir into spaghetti for 4-6 people.
Quantity of garlic cloves is based on Indian garlic; American garlic is stronger, hence halve the quantity.
Yields: 1 medium mason jar | Prep Time: 30 mins
200g fresh basil
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup Parmigiana cheese (optional)
1 cup walnuts
7-8 cloves garlic
Juice of one lemon
Salt + Pepper
Wash the basil leaves well and pat dry. (Ensure the stems are removed)
In a mixer, crush all the ingredients together until desired consistency. (You can add more olive oil or lemon juice as per your tastes)
This stays well in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week, and stays a lot longer in the freezer.
To make pasta: Gently saute vegetables, garlic and onions in some olive oil. Stir in the walnut basil pesto sauce and then boiled pasta. Serve warm with some grated Parmesan cheese.