I go through phases of condiment obsession. Years ago, I was putting Swedish mustard on and in everything. Recently, I’ve been finding a million and one uses for Greek yogurt. Somewhere in between, it was pesto. One kind of pesto, to be specific.
Buddhapesto is a small company run out of the Hudson Valley area in New York state, and they make the best pesto I’ve ever had. Which is great, if you live in NY. But it’s a little hard to come by in Vermont. So, my goal for the summer was to grow a ton of basil and make pesto until I’d perfected the recipe, or my garden was depleted.
A couple of weeks ago, I realized it was finally time to give it a try. I cut down 1/3 of my basil, some parsley, and collected the rest of the ingredients listed on the label: olive oil, romano cheese, garlic, sea salt, and pine nuts. An important side note here: if you’re making pesto or anything else that involves pine nuts, try your best to purchase nuts that are not imported from China. About a month ago, I happened to be in NY and decided to stock up on Buddhapesto. A few days after pigging out on a sizable amount of pesto-covered pasta, I began to notice that everything I ate had a strange, bitter aftertaste. At first, I thought there might be something seriously wrong with me. But Google led me to a number of links and articles on “pine mouth,” a temporary condition caused by ingesting spoiled pine nuts, some of which have been traced back to China. (I have since been in touch with Buddhapesto and told that they were looking into their pine nut source, but the problem was only further motivation for me to make my own.)
So, I gathered all of my ingredients, measured them out into what I thought might be the proper proportions, and threw it all in the food processor. After blending it together, I had a taste. It didn’t seem right. I threw in a little more basil. Still not right. Some more cheese? It still wasn’t right. Even more basil. Still, it seemed off. Extremely frustrated, I left everything where it was and stormed out of the kitchen. Three hours later, I came back to clean up my mess, and decided to give it another taste. Oooh! It was good! Really good. Apparently, the flavors just needed a couple hours to get friendly with each other. Success!
- 4 cups of basil
- 1 1/2 cups of Italian flat-leaf parsley
- 1 cup of olive oil
- 2 cups of romano cheese, grated
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1/3 cup of pine nuts
- a few pinches of tri-colored or pink sea salt
Combine ingredients in a food processor and blend. Add more olive oil if it isn’t blending easily. Allow pesto to sit for an hour, then taste. Make any adjustments you feel necessary if it doesn’t seem quite right to you. Keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks, or freeze whatever you won’t use right away.