During the winter months, when I can’t get lemon basil leaves, I always use and lemon juice to add an extra boost of the unmistakable flavor of lemon basil to my dressings, but when it’s the start of summer and my plants are in full growth mode, nothing can improve upon the fresh, tart essence of the real thing.
¼ cup shelled roasted pistachios
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
1 t coarse sea salt
2 cloves garlic
3 cups fresh lemon basil leaves
½ cup grated Reggiano Parmigiano cheese
Juice of ½ Meyer lemon
Combine first five ingredients with mortar and pestle or grind to paste in processor. Add basil and cheese to mixture. With the processor running, pour olive oil in a thin stream until desired consistency. Finish with lemon juice to taste and blend well.
During the summer months, when garden-fresh basil is abundant, pesto is a delightful accompaniment to boiled small potatoes, fresh pasta or spooned over grilled fish.
To preserve the sauce and extend its shelf life, omit the cheese and add enough olive oil to cover about ½ inch above the pesto. It can last well into the fall and be a vivid reminder of a warm summer day. Remember to mix in cheese before serving.