Remember that incredible Blackberry Salad with the macadamia nuts?! Well I had some leftover macadamias and the ONLY good thing my house renters did was leave me a ton of fresh basil so it only seemed natural to riff on a classic pesto (which usually has pine nuts).
SHOPPING LIST: fresh basil, macadamia nuts, chopped garlic, parmesan cheese, olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper
Give you fresh basil a quick rinse and dry and then you want to get about 2 cups of basil leaves into your food processor. Top the clean basil leaves with 1/2 cup of macadamia nuts, 3/4 cup of parmesan cheese, 2 heaping tB. of chopped garlic and the juice of one lemon. Lastly, add 1/2 cup of olive oil and begin to pulse your food processor until your pesto becomes chunky and emulsified. If your pesto needs more liquid, add 1 tB. of olive oil at a time until it’s easily blended. Finally, add two pinches of salt and one pinch of black pepper and give it one last pulse to blend the seasonings. Your finished pesto should like so:
Now for your pasta. We’re really big fans of the Anna Long Fusilli pasta these days but you can use ANY pasta of your choice. Regardless of noodle, there are a few keys steps to really making this dish perfectly. First of all, make sure you are cooking your pasta in HEAVILY salted boiling water. You want to par-cook your pasta – for this dish I cooked the pasta for 11/12 minutes – and then retain 1/2 cup of the pasta liquid before straining your pasta.
To finish your pesto pasta, add 2 tB. of olive oil (or even butter) to a saucepan with the 1/2 cup of pasta water and 3/4 cup of your pesto sauce and heat over medium heat. The pasta water and oil will loosen your pesto and create a creamier sauce. Re-add your pasta to the pan and continue to cook the pasta 2 minutes in the pesto sauce. Finishing your pasta this way will allow the pasta to really soak in and absorb all of the flavors of the pesto. Give the dish and another pinch of salt and pepper and quick toss before serving. A little red pepper flake would be a nice touch here if you’re cooking for people who like things to have a kick (like me).
** Side Note ** I also love thinning out this pesto recipe – 1/2 cup of pesto with 2 tB. of apple cider vinegar – to create a pesto vinaigrette to use as a dressing for salads or grilled vegetables.