There are a few precious weeks in Minnesota when the weather is cool enough to have the windows wide open both day and night. It can be a very productive time to get things done, like paint the garage, clean out a closet or two and prep for winter. While I did my fair share of cleaning and winter prep, one of the other things I felt compelled to do was make fresh pasta. It happens every fall and while sometimes I’m more ambitious, like when I made pumpkin ravioli with cream sauce. This year I kept it pretty simple with just noodles, basil pesto and parmesan cheese.
This summer, my sister moved into a new house with a yard perfect for gardening. When I last visited I was sent home with a large bag of tomatoes, a ton of jalapenos, a bunch of cilantro and an enormous amount of basil. I’ve never seen basil plants this big! So, I did what I had to do and made it all into pesto, stashing little containers of it in the nooks and crannies of my freezer. Eventually I’ll offload some to my family but until then, it’s being used in things like fresh pasta and tomato basil soup.
I use almonds in my pesto instead of pine nuts because #1, pine nuts are super expensive and #2, I’ve eaten one too many rancid Chinese pine nuts and will not risk the bad metallic taste if I can’t find true Italian pine nuts.
In a food processor, combine the basil, almonds, parmesan cheese, garlic, salt and pepper. Pulse a few times until the mixture starts to combine and then blend until pureed. Drizzle in olive oil until mixture is smooth, adding additional olive oil as needed until it reaches desired consistency. Taste and add additional salt and pepper as needed.
Divide into smaller containers and pour additional olive oil over the top to prevent pesto from browning. Either store in the refrigerator if using soon, or store in the freezer. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.