Quality Ingredients Matter
If you ask me, the quality of ingredients really matters when making a great summer basil pesto. Why? Because each ingredient contributes to the flavor you experience when you roll it around in your mouth and over your tongue. Let’s look one-by-one at the ingredients in a super tasty basil pesto made in the summertime. If you need a recipe, here’s my recipe for summer basil pesto.
Fresh Basil: The very best basil for pesto is what you grow yourself. It’s really fun to grow fresh herbs – and easy, too. Basically, you need to find a sunny spot in your yard/garden to plant a basil plant, or on your deck or patio to grow your basil plant in a terra cotta pot. Then, throughout the summer if it’s dry and hot, you need to water your plant and watch it grow. In June, July or August, depending on your climate, the basil will grow leafy and tall, ready to be picked and made into an easy basil pesto recipe.
If you don’t grow basil yourself, don’t worry. The next best fresh basil ingredient comes from your local farmer’s market, and the next best comes from your local grocery store.
Garlic: The very best garlic for pesto is fresh and firm. Buy it at your local farmer’s market if you can find it there. Otherwise, buy it from your local grocery store. When you smash your garlic with a big knife to release all the flavor, be sure to remove any green center shoot. If you add it, this can make your pesto taste a little bitter.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO): The very best EVOO for pesto is fresh and pure. Buy it at a specialty olive oil shop, a Mediterranean market, or your local grocery store. There is a wide range of quality in EVOO and so making a careful choice is smart. The best is cold pressed, from a single farm or producer, and not too close to its best-by date.
Nuts: The very best nuts for pesto are unsalted and unflavored. Whereas most recipes call for pine nuts, which can be expensive and hard to find, walnuts are my first choice, not expensive and easy to find in a local market or grocery store. Another advantage to using walnuts is their top-notch nutrition which includes omega-3, healthy fat.
Parmesan Cheese: The very best Parmesan cheese for pesto is a 12-24 month aged, made in Italy brand, labeled Parmigiano-Reggiano. Buy it at a local specialty cheese shop or a local grocery store.
Salt: The very best salt for pesto is simple sea salt. Buy it at a local grocery store.
Quality Nutrition Matters
In the summer, and all year long, it’s smart to focus your attention on quality nutrition. Slow down when you make a choice at the grocery store. Set aside time to wander through a local farmer’s market. Take time to learn about the ingredients you cook with. As a starting point, grab a copy of my Easy Mediterranean Menus eBook – it’s free! For daily tips about quality nutrition, join me on facebook, too. You’ll be so glad you did.
How will you use your homemade basil pesto — on a pizza, stirred into cooked pasta, or as a topping for grilled chicken?