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I was asked “what’s the secret to your pesto…?”

July 6, 2014

The key to a great summer pesto is exuberance and integrity. (You might also say that there is a spritz of extravagance as well.)

Integrity of key. Authentic food needs to be just that – authentic. While we have to get through winter with basil grown in Mexican herb factories and then shipped half-way ’cross the continent in little plastic boxes, now we can walk down to the Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning and get fresh organic Nova Scotia basil and garlic – that was picked just yesterday. (Buy a bunch of basil and stick it right up to your nose and inhale. You’ll hallucinate many happy thoughts.)

And while Mexican basil is a rare but welcome sight in our winter Halifax supermarkets – (and winter pesto, despite itself, still helps you dream of the coming summer) – the difference between summer pesto and winter pesto is enough to make you want to weep.

The fresh summer herbs, the warmth of the evening, the coconut oil and incense, the salsa playing in the other room, the fresh baked baguette, the mojitos, the high cut of the skirt – lends an exuberance that can’t be found in a January pesto.

The extravagance lies in the baccanalean application of the recipe. The 6 gloves of garlic instead of the more demur 3 gloves called for in the recipe. The doubling up on the parmesan. The larger cup size for the pine nuts. That triple shot + one of olive oil. Attitude is everything.

 6 gloves garlic, peeled

6 cups packed basil leaves

1/3 cup pine nuts – crush nuts after measuring

2/3 cup grated parmesan

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

½ cup warm water

8 teaspoons olive oil

Place all ingredients in blender (blender gives pesto a rougher texture than a food processor) and blend until smooth.

4 cups penne – cooked el dente (approximately 12 minutes)

Drain penne and add pesto and stir. Pour into bowls and sprinkle (to taste) with grated parmesan.

Serves two gluttons, or three (robustly), or four (nicely).

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