General pesto tip: do all your chopping in a food processor. Unless you don’t have a job or kids….then go ahead and get all zen with your cutting board and chef’s knife if you want. I chop everything more-or-less separately and combine it in a large, separate bowl so that I have better control over the consistency of the finished product.
Walnut Lemon Pesto
makes about 7 half-pint jars (recipe can be halved)
20 garlic cloves (adjust to taste and based on the size of your garlic cloves)
4 cups walnut halves
1 pound fresh basil leaves, rinsed and patted dry if necessary
2 cups good quality extra virgin olive oil (I break out the good organic stuff for this)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste
zest of 2 lemons
2-3 Tbsp kosher salt, or to taste
One at a time, process garlic and walnuts in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process the basil and oil together, working in two batches if necessary, so the basil chops easily. As each ingredient reaches the consistency of course bread-crumbs, or the texture you prefer, transfer it to a large bowl.
Add lemon juice and zest to the pesto mixture, and season to taste with salt and additional lemon juice if necessary. Stir together very well.
When the pesto tastes just right (go ahead and “taste” 5 or 6 huge spoonfuls to determine that it’s just right), transfer it to clean half-pint jars, drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top, and lid the jars. Label jars and store for months in the freezer.
Use spinach, arugula, parsley or “exotic basils” in place of some or all of the basil (think if you grew a pound of lemon basil for this recipe…lemony yum!).
Substitute almonds for the walnuts.
Add parmesan cheese to the pesto (this would bring it closer to traditional). If you add cheese, you will likely need less salt.
Play around with ingredient amounts a bit. Discover your own house pesto variations.
How do you like your pesto?