2 cups slightly-packed fresh basil leaves
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1/2 jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and sliced
1/2 cup fruity, extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup unsalted, shelled and roasted pistachio nuts*
3/4 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Coarse sea salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste
* How to roast pistachio nuts: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Shell the nuts. Spread the pistachios on a rimmed cookie sheet, in a single layer for even roasting. Roast approximately 6 to 8 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until the pistachios are fragrant and lightly browned. Remove from oven, set aside until cool.
Wash the basil leaves, discard the stems, and dry thoroughly. Also peel off any thick spines from any larger basil leaves. NOTE: I use my salad spinner for washing and drying the basil leaves.
In a food processor fitted with steel blades, add basil leaves, garlic, and Jalapeno chile pepper; process until basil and garlic are finely chopped.
With the machine on, drizzle in the olive oil to create a thick paste. If needed, take the lid off the processor and scrape down the sides of the processor bowl and the lid using a rubber spatula.
Add pistachio nuts, Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice to the basil mixture and process 1 to 2 minutes or until the pesto is well mixed. NOTE: Some people like their pesto a little chunky, but I like mine smooth (your choice).
Season to taste with salt and pepper and pulse a few more times. Taste again and adjust seasonings, if needed.
Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups.
The pesto will keep for up to 4 weeks in a covered container in the refrigerator. Pour a thin film of olive oil on top of the pesto to prevent discoloration. For longer storage, do not add the Parmesan cheese until ready to use. Below are some ideas on how to freeze pesto.
Press plastic wrap against the surface of the pesto to minimize any exposure to air and subsequent browning. Refrigerate, tightly covered, for up to two weeks. Before using, leave at room temperature for about 15 minutes.
Spoon the pesto into a foil-lined custard cup; cover tightly with foil and freeze. Once frozen, remove the foil-wrapped packet and store in a freezer bag for up to 2 to 3 months. To use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, or remove from the foil and thaw quickly in the microwave. Add Parmesan cheese just before serving.
Freeze in ice cube trays. I like to spray an ice cube tray with non-stick spray and fill each space with the pesto. When frozen, remove each cube to a freezer bag. You will be able to take out as many of the pesto cubes as your need. Usually one (1) cube is enough for adding flavor a a red pasta sauce or a pot of soup.