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Celebrate summer solstice and an abundance of basil. Make a big batch of pesto - serve some tonight on pasta, and freeze the rest for future summer dinners.
According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the summer solstice happens at precisely 11:54 a.m. this morning, making today the longest day of the year and the first official day of summer. Let’s celebrate with a bright, light, summery dinner: Pasta with Pesto.
There are not many herbs that feel more summery than basil. Profusions at the farmer’s market and in the garden beg to be used up, and the best way I know how to do that is to make pesto. Pesto is a beautiful thing, not only because it’s literally green and beautiful, but also because you can make a bunch at once and freeze the rest in containers portioned out to supply lots of dinners to come. Pasta with pesto is just as good at room temperature as it is warm, so it’s easy to serve in the backyard or to a crowd. And it pairs perfectly with any kind of pasta you’ve got in the pantry – spaghetti, shells, penne, whatever.
Make tonight a summer solstice celebration. Homemade pesto will make it special, and it will be the easiest celebration you’ll ever prep.
½ cup toasted walnuts
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
¾ cup freshly grated parmesan
5 cups basil leaves, packed
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ cup good olive oil
Place the walnuts, garlic and parmesan in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade. Pulse until everything is finely ground. Add the basil leaves, salt and pepper and put the top back on the processor. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil through the feed tube until the pesto is pureed. Adjust the salt and pepper to your taste.
If you are storing the pesto (in the fridge or the freezer), transfer it to a sealable container and pour a very thin layer of olive oil over the top so that the pesto doesn’t turn brown. If you are serving it with pasta, save a couple of tablespoons of the pasta cooking water and add it to the cooked pasta along with the pesto, then use a pasta server or tongs to toss the pasta and pesto together, making sure all the pasta is coated with the sauce.