Fresh Basil Pesto Pasta with Grilled Chicken

Just the smell of fresh basil makes me weak in the knees. Luckily, it’s not a treat reserved only for summertime in our house. For my birthday a couple years ago, my sweet hubby got my an AeroGarden. This thing is amazing – we grow enough basil to have pesto about every other week! I’m planning on doing a more detailed post about this nifty gadget, but for now, here is my pesto recipe.

Classic pesto is simply a blend of basil leaves, cheese, nuts, garlic, and olive oil. It goes well with creamy cheeses on toasted crostini or crackers. It also goes extremely well with fish and chicken dishes (think grilled chicken or smoked salmon).

Our favorite, though, is to toss some farfalle (bow-tie) noodles with the pesto, topped with chunks of smokey grilled chicken.

Fresh Basil Pesto
Recipe from our dear family friends Judy and Joe

1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts or walnuts
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Measure all your ingredients except for the olive oil into your food processor. I like to use my mini-processor for making pesto:

Pulse several times to chop the leaves and nuts into the other ingredients. Then slowly stream the olive oil in while you process the pesto on medium speed. Add just enough olive oil to reach your desired consistency (tip: make your pesto thicker for a spread, thinner for a sauce). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Yield about 1 cup of pesto. Serve as desired (with cheese and crackers, tossed with pasta, as a glaze for roasted veggies, etc.).

Refrigerate and use your fresh pesto within 2-3 days OR freeze individual portions in an ice cube tray to use at your leisure!
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