Basil pesto

Published On: Jan 30 2013 09:43:38 AM PST   Updated On: Sep 27 2013 03:15:40 AM PDT

This fragrant paste of basil, garlic, and pine nuts is classic and divine. For a summer appetizer, stuff it into hollowed-out cherry tomatoes. For a quick dip, stir about ¼ cup pesto into ½ cup plain yogurt, mayonnaise, or sour cream; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and season to taste.

1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
¼ cup (1 ounce) pine nuts
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Process all the ingredients in a food processor (or blender) until the mixture is a coarse purée. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Advance preparation

The pesto will keep for up to 1 week in a covered container in the refrigerator; pour a thin film of olive oil on top of the pesto to prevent discoloration. For longer storage, spoon the mixture into a foil-lined custard cup; cover tightly with foil and freeze. Once frozen, remove the foil-wrapped packet and store in a freezer bag for up to 2 months.

To use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, or remove from the foil and thaw quickly in the microwave.