*Pictures are at the bottom of the post
1 Bunch of Basil [about 2-3 tightly packed cups]
1 Cup of shredded Parmesan Cheese
1 Cup of Water [pasta water will do great]
2/3 Cup of Mayo or Whipping Cream
2/3 Cup of peeled Garlic Cloves
1/3 Cup of Olive Oil
1/3 Cup of Pine Nuts
1/3 Cup of Sun-Dried Tomatoes [Julienne-Cut]
2 Tbs of Balsamic Vinegar [preferably aged]
2 tsp of ground Black Pepper
1 tsp of Salt
Combine water, oil, 1/3 cup of parmesan, garlic, basil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper together in a food processor.
Blend until liquid consistency. Transfer a mixture into a bowl.
Add remaining cheese, pine nuts, tomatoes and mayo or cream [whip it to a frothy consistency before adding]
Let it stand for about 15 minutes. Combine it with your pasta of choice.
Good Cook Advisory:
I do not like buying those individualized packs of basil – it never seems enough. I usually buy it in bunches and use it right away. Basil is a tough herb to grow and even harder to store. It best to buy it the day you will use it.
I usually buy a block of either Parmesan or Romano cheese. I do not like to buy shredded cheeses because they use preservatives to keep them fresh and to avoid caking. Moreover one cubic inch of parmesan or any hard cheese yields from 1/4 to 1/3 cup of grated cheese. Seems like a rip off to be paying more for much less.
It took me a while to realize that any pasta sauce recipe has to have water in it. Pasta keeps absorbing water even after its done cooking. If you do not add water you will end up with fatty pasta that will taste dry. In addition, in your sauce water mixes the flavors of basil and garlic, that pasta later absorbs, making it taste better the longer it stands.
Pounding garlic with a knife is not only the best way to get it out of its skin. When you pound garlic it releases oils, making it taste more potent. Measure your 2/3 cups of cloves, then smash them on the cutting board some more, after peeling.
Note: To get rid of garlic smell from your hands, rub your hands on stainless steel. Your metal sink will work fine. It will remove the oils from your skin. This is not a joke – it works!
Balsamic Vinegar –
I add it to pesto to prevent browning from oxidation. A lemon of lime would work just fine, though I prefer vinegar, because it makes it taste more authentic. I like my vinegar aged, it tastes a bit sweeter and more potent.
© Tatyana Bondarenko 2013