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Perfect Basil Pesto

 1 Bunch basil, leaves washed stems discarded (appx 2 cups tightly packed)
 1/4 cup pine nuts
 3 Cloves garlic still in their paper wrapper
 Juice from one whole lemon
 1 cup finely grated cheese, such as parmesan, pecorino or asiago (if making vegan, omit cheese and taste to adjust salt at the end)
 2 to 3 tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
 1/2 cup nice tasting olive oil or combination of sunflower & olive, have more on hand

Have a little salt on hand to adjust seasoning--will depend on your tastes and if you're using cheese

The secret to this recipe is in the first "prep" steps-- all we're doing is trying to heighten the flavors of all the individual ingredients so when they come together, they shine.

First, toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet for a few minutes, 5 tops. Shake the pan every 30 seconds or so to make sure they get evenly toasty, but not burned. They have a high oil content, so they'll fry easily. Once toasted--smelling great and light golden color--set aside.


In the same dry skillet, toast the garlic cloves over medium-high heat, still in their paper wrappers. This takes away a little bit of the sharpness and imparts some of that sweetness garlic develops when roasted. When the cloves begin to soften a bit, after 8 minutes or so, remove from heat and from paper wrapper. Coarsely chop.


Last prep step: bruise the basil leaves. Either crunch them (gently) in your hands, or put in a plastic bag and roll with a rolling pin. The bruising allows the aroma to come through.


Now place everything except the oil--the cheese, nuts, basil, parsley & garlic-- in a food processor or Vitamix. Turn it on, and slowly begin to pour in the oil, stopping every once in a while to scrape down the sides. Once it's reached your desired consistency, taste it to adjust the saltiness. If it's too salty, add more lemon juice.