A Hearty Pesto —MAV

Well I sure had a panic this weekend while at the farmer’s market. Whoa.

You see, I am about to leave town to go on holiday and all I found myself thinking was how I am about to miss all kinds of honest summertime goodness here in Maine. I’m missing two weeks of the farmer’s market, two weeks of the beach, two weeks of the wonderful warm Maine hot days and cool nights! Oh dear! I was suddenly wide-eyed, a little melancholy and worried!

I had to calm down by reminding myself of all I have done to enjoy summer so far … there have been plenty of glasses of agua fresca (working on perfecting my recipe and will get it to you in August) … plenty of blueberries already cleaned and frozen for the winter … plenty of nights going to bed smelling of the beach …

… plenty of snipped up t-shirts (my advice: cut as close to the collar as you can get because you can always make the neckline wider and it’s much better than going too wide) … plenty of cornmeal pancakes with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries … plenty of ice cream and shortcake …

… plenty of swimming (as if you can have too much) and plenty of pesto.

And with the list going on and on you can see how it was fairly easy to calm down, realize that there will still be plenty of summer left when I get home and press onward to the holiday! Time to pack my bags!

But first I thought I’d spread the love and share my favorite way of making pesto. I love to experiment with pesto. Different nuts, cheeses, even a bit of kale. I like to make a big batch each week and use it for pastas, as a sauce for fresh fish, a warm spread for fresh breads, maybe add a bit more olive oil and use the pesto for salad dressing. There are so many uses for a pesto-style sauce. Here is how I have been making it most this summer. I am not a fan of pine nuts so I never use those. This one calls for almonds but I encourage you to experiment and enjoy these summer days, friends, enjoy!

A Hearty Pesto
2 full handfuls of basil leaves
3/4 C almonds (unsalted)
2 cloves garlic
3/4 C ricotta
nice whack of parmesan (maybe an inch square), grated
1/2 lemon juice
a couple good pours of olive oil

Clean basil leaves well and dry them. Drop basil, almonds and garlic into food processor. Process until well chopped. Add some salt, pepper, ricotta, parmesan and process a bit more. Add lemon juice and olive oil. Continue to process until everything is mixed into a thick sauce. And now taste. Add anything you feel it needs … more garlic, more salt, more olive oil.

When I add this pesto, at room temperature, to cooked pasta (and toss) I also drizzle on some lemon juice and usually another splash of olive oil. You can see what you think. This is a very forgiving recipe, as all pestos are, so you can be fairly liberal with measurements and make it the way you like it. It stores in the fridge in a airtight container for up to a week.