Classic Basil Pesto

Pesto never goes out of style and it’s application is wide and varied. Add it to pasta or roasted vegetables. Slather it on chicken or use it as a pizza sauce. And the best part? You can make large batches, while the basil is overflowing in the summer, and freeze it for later use. Hooray for pesto!

pesto1

Classic Basil Pesto

Yield: 1 cup

 

2 ¼ packed cups fresh basil leaves

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly (2 teaspoons)

½ cup pine nuts

½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, not pre-grated

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

In a food processor, process to combine, the basil, ¼ cup oil, garlic, and pine nuts. Scrape down the sides, then add the remaining ¼ cup oil, and the cheese. Process until the desired texture is achieved, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. For the record, I add about ½ teaspoon salt and a few good cranks of pepper. No need to rush; taste as you go. Take your time and enjoy.

Note: Care for a nuttier flavor in your pesto? Try using toasted pine nuts.

 

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Fusili with Pesto and Sun Dried Tomatoes

It’s just not summer without fresh homemade pesto. Here’s my recipe paired with pasta and sun dried tomatoes. Grazie.

Fusili with Pesto and Sun Dried Tomatoes

Fusili with Pesto and Sun Dried Tomatoes

Yield: 4 servings

 

For the Pesto

2 ¼ packed cups fresh basil leaves

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly (2 teaspoons)

½ cup pine nuts

½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, not pre-grated

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

In a food processor, process to combine, the basil, ¼ cup oil, garlic, and pine nuts. Scrape down the sides, then add the remaining ¼ cup oil, and the cheese. Process until the desired texture is achieved, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. For the record, I add about ½ teaspoon salt and a few good cranks of pepper. No need to rush; taste as you go. Take your time and enjoy.

 

For the pasta

¾ pound fusili pasta

2 tablespoons kosher salt

¼ cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped roughly

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

8 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade (stacked, rolled and sliced thinly)

 

Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil.

Once the water has come to a rolling boil, add 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Stir the fusili into the boiling salted water and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente (almost done, or “to the tooth”).

Drain (do not rinse) the fusili, reserving 1/3 cup of the pasta water.

Toss with 1/2 cup of pesto, sundried tomatoes and some of the reserved pasta water if needed (to loosen the pesto). Add additional pesto if needed.

Divide onto plates and top with pine nuts and fresh basil.

 

Cooking for the Gastric Cancer Foundation

Tonight, I had the good fortune to cook with my brother and fellow Next Food Network Star competitor, Hans Rueffert. Hans is chef and co-owner (with his lovely wife) of the Woodbridge Inn in Jasper, Georgia, (if you are ever near – you must go – quaint, beautiful and delicious food, of course) author of the cookbook “Eat Like There’s No Tomorrow” (a steal at only $25!), father of 2 fantastic kids (and 1 more on the way) and is a gastric cancer survivor. Hard core. He is also a health and nutrition coach, chef/teacher, advisor, mentor, and inspiration/coach for others…  definitely one of the most generous people I know. He is close friend and was even there to support Super Sous’ mom when she fought cancer last year. A true genuine hearted person.

So, it was a huge honor (and a blast) for me to cook with him tonight for a Gastric Cancer Foundation private dinner in San Francisco. Here we are serving up the soup course: Summer Corn Soup with Chanterelles, Creme Fraiche and Basil Pesto.

Rueffert and Lyon

 

And my Mixed Berry Crostata – how much more summer can you get?!

mixed berry crostata

Thanks for the invite, brother Hans! Let’s cook again soon.

If you want to support kicking cancer in the ass!, you can click to donate to the Gastric Cancer Foundation.