Perfect Basil Hazelnut Pesto

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It’s a wonderful time of year when large bouquets of cut basil appear at Farmers’ Markets. Take advantage of the season to make a stash of Basil Hazelnut Pesto to last all winter long. We make huge batches of this, always using the mortar and pestle, and it stays bright green and fresh tasting all year long. We don’t add Parmigiano to the pesto now, instead we add it when we’re preparing a dish. A mortar and pestle makes all the difference to the taste of this pesto.

Makes:

3/4 cup (We think you’ll want to multiply and make more)

Recipe

½ teaspoon sea salt
6 large cloves of garlic coarsely chopped
½ cup hazelnuts, coarsely chopped (added by mistake one day – now always)
1 cup fresh basil, leaves only, torn 1/3 at a time
1 tablespoon plus ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Mix salt and garlic in mortar crushing garlic with pestle. Add hazelnuts and crush.
  • Add 1/3 of basil along with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil and continue to gently pound the ingredients. Incorporate the next 1/3 cup of the basil.
  • With the final 1/3 of the basil, add the remaining ¼ cup olive oil and mix thoroughly. Season with black pepper.
  • Place in plastic container and cover with a thin layer of olive oil. You can store in refrigerator for up to 6 months, if after each use you top with a film of olive oil.
  • NOTE: At our recent Italian Wine Weekend, we made batches of this Pesto in our food processor and also by hand in a mortar and pestle. We passed the tastes around and there was no question which was the favorite. Hands down, the classic technique won.

While it takes a little more energy, go into your Zen mode and mash everything into a chunky paste in your mortar. One taste and you’ll agree. We promise, you’ll never use a food processor for pest again once you taste this.

Pesto IS Perfect … Go Ahead and Play!
“Pesto” means “to make a paste,” and once Americans fell in love with the classic pesto, we’ve all taken it to heart and let our imaginations run wild! Using the traditional pounding method we often change the ingredients, first using different herbs: basil, parsley, tarragon, mint, oregano and arugula and spinach, then hazelnuts, macadamias, walnuts, or sunflower, pumpkin or sesame seeds, vary the oils and cheeses, then sometimes pushing the envelope even further to include, roasted tomatoes, roasted red peppers, chipotle, artichokes, kalamata olives, sweet peas, or ginger. There are no rules. These new pestos simply dazzle everything they touch. You’ll feel like a very rich cook when you have a stash of pesto.

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Perfect Basil Pesto Wickwood Inn

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