My friend Mr. X is a basil fanatic. He suffers from one of the most extensive basil addictions I have ever been witness to and while that in itself is pretty frightening, if you happen to engage him in a conversation about basil, he gets excitable and starts talking about grow lights and greenhouses and ponders aloud how he can keep his basil habit going in the dead of winter. Not too long ago, I happened upon quite a large quantity of basil so I decided to whip up a batch of Ligurian pesto sauce and surprise him with a jar. When I pulled it out of my bag and presented it to him his eyes lit up like a pinball machine.
“Is that pesto, ” he asked, his voice barely audible. He looked around the room, his eyes darting to and fro, clearly checking to make sure no one else was observing us.
“Yes,” I replied. “This is Ligurian style pesto; it’s made with walnuts, instead of pine nuts.”
Mr. X’s expression went slack, the light diminished from his eyes; he was confused. Very loudly, he asked, “NIGERIAN PESTO?????”
I couldn’t help laughing out and it took me a few minutes to gain my composure before I could explain things to him, and when I did he was happy to learn about all of the different styles of pesto. I like Ligurian pesto because I really like the dominance of walnuts more than pine nuts, which can be far too rich for my tastes. Apparently, Mr. X agreed for it wasn’t but a couple of days later when he returned the empty jar and admitted that had the opening been wide enough, he would have licked it clean.
This pesto is particularly good on fish or vegetables.
1. In a food processor, combine basil, walnuts, garlic and cheese.
2. Process until mixed and pasty.
3. With the motor running, add olive oil in a steady stream until desired consistency is achieved.
4. Add lemon juice and salt to taste.
5. Refrigerate overnight; allow to come to room temperature before using.