BY NOW, IT IS QUITE POSSIBLE that your basil plants have withered in a frost or been picked clean. If not, I suggest you make yourself some pesto because come one miserably rainy wintry day you will be happy that you did and you will think of me.
A few things to note: as the title suggests, pesto is a potent additive to any recipe. Yes, I said additive because I believe anything can be improved by it in small doses. One can get carried away with pesto when served as a sauce for pasta or salmon.
I do not use pine nuts as they are unbelievably expensive and toasted walnuts are a good enough replacement.
You might want to cut your olive oil with canola oil since that is a healthier choice and olive oil can weigh rather heavily on the senses.
Cheese should not be added until you serve your dish. Cheese does not freeze . . . well. Romano cheese is way too sharp for me; I prefer Parmesan. But I'm not you - you are - so do what you like.
On this point, I must insist: unless you are an experienced canner, freeze your pesto. There is some wicked bacterial danger that can develop when olive oil and garlic are left to their own devices for too long at room temperature. I'd rather you not curse me on your way to the emergency room in the middle of a cold January night.
To begin, preheat your oven to 425'. Lay your walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast them gently, carefully for a few minutes, maybe 4, but keep a close eye on them. Nuts can burn quickly.
Let them cool.
Grab a few bunches of basil leaves (I grew Neopolitana this summer) and snip off the best leaves. Run them under cold water, roll them up in paper towels to absorb excess water.
I also like to add about ten branches of flat parsley because I love parsley and it tempers the bite of the basil. Put in a food processor and pulse until chopped. Remove from the bowl and set aside.
When the nuts are cooled, grind them to a coarse texture in the food processor or chop them by hand. Remove from the processor and place in a bowl.
Get some garlic cloves and hit them with the broad side of your knife. This splits the little paper jacket and prevents you from going insane while peeling off those transparent layers.
Get a pinch of peppercorns and some sea salt.
Put in a food processor with the garlic cloves and pulse. If you are doing this by hand, salt added to garlic will ease the process. Chopping garlic with salt makes it sweat so you end up with a nice paste. Either way, you should end up with something like this:
Those green bits are parsley and basil remnants, by the way.
Put everything back in the food processor. Add the oil. My processor does not have a tube so I add it all at once and pulse just to combine. It's fine.
I like to store my pesto in 4 ounce jars. Wash them in hot soapy water and dry them.
In your best handwriting, write a descriptive phrase of your pesto on a label. I wrote Walnut Pesto on mine since my nephew has a nut allergy and I'd rather he didn't have this. Place your pesto in the jars and then into the freezer.
Since I made this a week ago, I have already used a jar to brighten a roasted tomato sauce for Eggplant Parmigiana and another jar for a white bean and vegetable main dish.
I am very happy that I did and I hope you will be too.