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The Pleasures of Pesto

December 9, 2016 Back to Picks >

What do you get when you combine fresh basil, sunshine, and plenty of water? An explosion of luscious basil leaves just begging to be harvested and enjoyed. When this happens to you, harvest and enjoy the goodness of basil in this home-made pesto:
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced 1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
pinch of salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Remove basil leaves from the stems, rinse, and pat dry. Combine garlic, basil, nuts and salt in processor. Process until chopped fine and the ingredients begin to form a paste. Gradually blend in olive oil alternately with the cheese, processing until well mixed. To store, place in covered containers in small quantities, cover with more olive oil, then seal and refrigerate. To avoid spoilage or “off” flavors, freeze pesto sauce if it won’t be used within two days. It can be stored frozen for up to three months.

Use on pasta, in sauces and soups, or any tomato based dish within two weeks of making it. Pesto lovers are always on the lookout for interesting ways to use that delicious condiment. Here’s one I happened across for Pesto-Stuffed Fish. 4 fish fillets, such as catfish, red snapper, cod
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cup basil pesto
1/2 cup white wine or chicken stock
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Clean and dry the fillets. Season both sides with black pepper. Have on hand 1 1/2 cups of basil pesto. Set aside a half cup of the pesto and spread the remainder on the flat side of the fillets. Roll up the fillets (pesto side in) and secure with a toothpick or skewer. Place them on their side in a shallow oven-proof pan. Pour in the wine or chicken stock and cover the dish with foil. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the fish flakes easily when pierced with a fork. To serve, place each cooked fillet on a plate. Top with portions of the reserved pesto and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.