Basil Pesto

Makes 2/3 cup (enough for two adults and two kids)

This classic Italian sauce is delicious served over pasta or drizzled over fresh mozzarella cheese and sliced tomatoes. Serve it slightly heated or at room temperature. I find adding the garlic in slices, rather than the whole cloves, ensures it blends into the final sauce better.

¾ cup packed fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons butter, softened
¼ cup pignoli nuts (also called pine nuts), optional
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Add the basil and parsley to the workbowl of a food processor. Pulse until roughly chopped. Add the garlic, butter, nuts (if using), cheese and salt an pepper. Process until it forms a paste, then slowly drizzle olive oil in through feed tube, continuing to process the mixture until it begins to emulsify and becomes a creamy sauce-like consistency.

TIP: At the end of summer, I make a batch of pesto using any surplus basil and freeze it in ice cube trays. This way I have "fresh" basil to add to my marinara sauce throughout the long, sometimes cold, winters here in NYC. You can leave out the pignoli nuts, as I do, for this purpose.