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There's no need to purchase prepared pesto when it's so easy to make your own. When you see big bunches of fresh basil for sale at the farmer's market this summer, get out your food processor or blender and give this a try. And, for a different twist, substitute fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley for basil – perfect for winter, when fresh herbs are hard to come by.
Step-by-step photos illustrating how to make pesto are available at Baking Banter, our King Arthur blog.
4 to 5 cups fresh basil leaves, firmly packed (about one large bunch, 6 ounces before trimming); or one bunch Italian flat-leaf parsley
4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese: about 1 1/2 cups coarsely grated, or 1 cup finely grated
4 to 8 large, peeled garlic cloves (to taste)
1 cup (4 ounces) walnuts or pine nuts (use pine nuts only if you're independently wealthy)
1/4 teaspoon salt
about 5 tablespoons (about 2 1/8 ounces) olive oil, enough to thin and smooth the pesto to the consistency you prefer
Combine all of the ingredients except the oil in a food processor or blender, and process until finely chopped. Drizzle in the olive oil with the machine running, adding more for a thinner pesto, less for a thicker version.
Store pesto in the refrigerator, its surface covered with plastic wrap, if you plan to eat it soon. Or freeze it; even when frozen, it'll be soft enough that you can dig out chunks of it to warm up for sauce. Yield: about 20 ounces, a scant 2 1/2 cups.
Nutrition information per serving (2 tablespoons, 25g): 138 cal, 14g fat, 3g protein, 1g complex carbohydrates, 4mg cholesterol, 110mg sodium, 51mg potassium, 28RE vitamin A, 1mg vitamin C, 82mg calcium, 57mg phosphorus.