I had a rather large basil plant when I made this. It has since died, and I must start anew. If you have your own homegrown basil, this is a great way to use it. If you can get a lot for cheap somewhere, that's fine too. If you can only find basil in the super small, super spendy packages at the grocery store, this may not be how you want to use it...but who am I to say? This is a good condiment, and works great if you have some on hand to stir into cooked pasta for a quick dinner, or spread on a sandwich. I'm told there are other uses, but I haven't explored them yet.
Traditional Pesto, from How to cook Everything Vegetarian, by Mark Bittman
Makes: about 1 cup pesto
2 loosely packed cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried (pat dried, not 'crunchy' dried)
1/2 clove or more garlic
2 T. pine nuts or walnuts
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil, or more
1/2 c. freshly grated parmesan, pecorino romano, or other hard cheese (optional) (I didn't use this)
Combine the basil with a pinch of salt, the garlic, the nuts, and about half the oil in a food processor or blender. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary and adding the rest of the oil gradually.
Add more oil if you prefer a thinner mixture. Store in the refrigerator for a week or two or in the freezer for several months. If you freeze, add a thin layer of olive oil on top to help keep it fresh. Stir in the parmesan by hand just before serving. (I don't like parmesan, and so skipped this step.)