Even though my grandpa, Papa, passed away years ago, as far as my family is concerned he still has a lock on homemade pesto. Pretty much any mention of this sauce/spread/spoon accompaniment is met with a comment about “Papa’s pesto”. For good reason- his recipe is classic and delicious. Over the years I’ve strayed from his original recipe, substituting full basil for a variety of greens and pine nuts for (usually) whatever nuts I already had in my pantry. It turns out that as long as you keep the proportions relatively the same, it’s nearly impossible to make a bad batch.
This time around, for my greens I used 2 cups basil and 3 cups kale and for the nuts I went with 1/4 cup pistachios and 1/4 cup walnuts. Usually I like to use at least 2 cups of basil but I’ve made this recipe before entirely with kale (known for its toughness) and it was still highly devourable.
1/2 cup nuts (pine, walnuts, almonds, pistachio…go crazy)
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
Juice from one small lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
5 cups greens, packed (one type of green or a combination of basil, spinach, arugula, kale, collards, etc.)
1 1/2 cups olive oil
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
In a food processor, blend the nuts and the garlic. Pulse until all the nuts are a broken down to an appropriate size. Add in the salt, pepper, and lemon juice and pulse to combine.
The greens probably won’t fit in the food processor bowl all at once, so start by adding a handful or two at a time. The olive oil can be poured in as needed (to better control pesto thickness).
After all the greens have been added, pour in the cheese and pulse to combine.
This pesto freezes really well as long as it’s kept air-tight. If you freeze it in a container you can pour a little olive oil, air-defense layer over the top. Sometimes I freeze it in an ice cube tray before putting the blocks in a freezer bag (so I can pull out smaller portions as needed), and then I just try to get as much air out of the bag as possible before deep-6ing it in the freezer.