First things first: you need A LOT of basil. Don't plan on buying it from the grocery store- it would cost a fortune. Either purchase it from your local farmer's market or plan to grow your own next year. I got enough to make a double batch a month ago and spent about 8 dollars. Second, you must have a food processor.
Here's the best recipe you will ever find for pesto! Truth is, I've never really tried anything else.
1/2 cup pine nuts
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Place the pine nuts and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.
Notes: Air is the enemy of pesto. For freezing, pack it in containers with a film of oil or plastic wrap directly on top with the air pressed out.
To clean basil, remove the leaves, swirl them in a bowl of water, and then spin them very dry in a salad spinner. Store them in a closed plastic bag with a slightly damp paper towel. As long as the leaves are dry they will stay green for several days.Now for Velda's great idea. Fill two ice cube trays with your pesto. Freeze pesto overnight, then remove from ice cube trays and keep in freezer bags. Pesto stays good all year! (I think, mine never makes it that long.)
Here's a delicious recipe from my friend Natalie. I LOVE this recipe. It's easy, delicious, and not that bad for you!
Pesto-Coated Baked Chicken
2-3 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
1/4 c + 1 T prepared pesto
1 1/2 tsp sour cream
1 1/2 tsp mayonnaise
1 T shredded Parmesan (but I ended up using about 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella)
1 T pine nuts (used more of these too)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange chicken in a single layer in a shallow baking dish. Combine pesto, sour cream, and mayonnaise in a small bowl. Brush over chicken. Sprinkle with cheese and pine nuts. Bake 10-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.