Four semi-packed cups of home grown basil + one Mark Bittman pesto recipe = A Happy Girl! Actually, I exaggerate, all of the basil didn't go into the pesto, the leftover was for bruschetta, but this t'aint about no bruschetta, it's about the pesto, my very first experience with my homegrown herb. Homegrown herb, heh, wonder how many stray google hits that is gonna bring me.
First I took my freshly plucked basil and hand washed each individual leaf, cleaning all dirt off. Idiotically I am MUCH MORE relaxed when I buy fresh basil at the store; no individual leaf washing, the whole package gets a quick douse under the faucet (I just spelled that Fawcet, as in Farrah, as in I see too much pop culture on tv and the internet and it is rotting my brain). But then again, I know what lurks in my yard (i.e., psycho deer that try to attack my pooch and the turkey mafia) and it ain't pretty. So right, I washed the hell out of the basil and then, and only then did I give it a spin in the salad spinner.
It sure looks pretty! Well maybe it doesn't. Maybe it is some sense of farmer pride that makes me find this to be the most beautiful basil in the whole wide world. Maybe I am deluded. Or, maybe it really is the most beautiful basil ever. Once the basil was clean and drying, I gathered the rest of my pesto making goodies.
You may also want to grab slave labor, uh, I mean a sous-chef. The sous-chef, if under-aged, may turn out to be a hindrance as all she will want to do is sit on the floor and play with raw pasta noodles. But if she is cute, she can provide comic relief if your pesto goes to shit.
So I followed Bittman's basic pesto recipe, except that I added a dash of Romano cheese because I have crappy reading comprehension skills and randomly added it in my head. Also, I detoured from the recipe when it came to adding the oil. I like my pesto thick and after adding half the oil I was worried it was going to be a watery mess. Granted, you don't add the cheese (well the Parmesan, a/k/a the cheese called for in the recipe) into the food processor, you mix it in by hand after the oil and other ingredients are processed, but still, I was scared.
It turns out that the full amount of oil probably would have been fine (hell, it is a Bittman recipe after all), but I can only say probably because I just started mixing cheese in with no thought or care to measuring. I was just going for what looked right. I may have used less cheese to compensate for less oil, or maybe I am just a cheese loving fool, or maybe both.
It really doesn't matter though because in the end, I had some DELICIOUS pesto!