Scene: Joan’s happy little farm. The basil and blackberries are ready for picking, the chickens are clucking, the piña coladas are ice cold and refreshing. There’s a small rowboat bobbing against the shore of a serene pond and a pair of donkeys munching on weeds in a nearby field. It's a warm summer evening. Cue a few pesky mosquitoes.
Even though I had a flight to catch at 5 a.m. the next morning, you better believe I was not about to miss out on a pesto party at Joan’s. This is a summer Swash tradition! Are you wondering what the hell a pesto party is? Are you jealous? Do you want to throw your own herb-inspired evening with some of your favorite coworkers? It is simple. Here’s all you need:
-A couple of hours to pick leaves, drink piña coladas, make pesto, and party
-At least 3-4 locally sourced, free-range coworkers (the more the merrier!)
-Some bowls, a food processor, and jars to fill with the bounty of the evening
-Noodles of some sort, because you know you aren’t leaving without a hearty serving of fresh pesto pasta
-One metric ton of fresh basil (or as much as you can find): we used lemon and sweet varieties, picked straight out of the garden
-Parmesan cheese (or a tasty hard cheese of your choosing)
-Garlic, salt, & pepper
-Pine nuts (or chopped walnuts!)
-Piña colada fixins because I don’t know what a pesto party is without such a thing
What to do once you have gathered all the things:
Before you do anything else, be sure to wash the basil well and give it a good pat down with a towel or a whirl in the lettuce spinner. Toast the nuts. Peel the garlic. Grate some cheese. Drink. Converse with your comrades.
Combine two cups of basil and ⅓ of a cup of nuts in the food processor and pulse a few times. Add the garlic (the original recipe says three cloves but we all know that’s not enough) and pulse a bit more.
While the food processor is running, slowly add ½ c of olive oil. Be sure to occasionally scrape the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula for the best consistency. Grate that cheese and throw in a half cup, still blending. Add salt and pepper to taste.
That’s it! You made pesto! It’s that easy.
Once you’ve got your hands on a jar of this magical stuff, you need to know that your pesto possibilities are endless. You can just eat it on pasta and it’ll be delicious, but allow us to spark your imagination. Joan’s favorite is mixing it into a cream sauce or making bruschetta (may we recommend our semi-famous sourdough recipe?). Jessica makes a mean pesto pizza with goat cheese, mozzarella, garlic, tomato ﹘ I am trying this immediately. Andi enlightened me to the pesto grilled cheese, which I could probably eat every day, forever, but I also like to smother portabellas with pesto and breadcrumbs...
Are you hungry yet?