In the small Italian town, Apricale, in the Liguria district of Italy, they produce an extremely flavorful and delicate extra virgin olive oil from Taggiasca olives. One can find it in every home, every restaurant table and at the local farmer’s market. It’s flavor, when combined with basil produces a wonderfully bright and colorful pesto.
This basil recipe was built on a base of Taggiasca Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It has a delicate flavor to allow the freshness of the basil to shine. If you cannot locate this particular oil, choose an extra virgin olive oil with a delicate flavor.
While the basil is the star, the walnuts add an earthy note. Roasted and cooled before adding, they contribute to the complexity of flavors as well as provide to the course texture.
Use a quality Parmigiano-Reggiano to ensure the flavor bold enough to stand up to the basil.
Using a food processor rather than a blender provides a courser texture than when using a blender. It allows the pesto to work well as a sauce for pasta or an addition to salad such as Isle of Capri Melted Caprese Salad.
½ c walnuts
4 c fresh basil leaves, packed
3 cloves garlic
2/3 c Taggiasca Extra Virgin Olive Oil or other delicate flavored extra virgin olive oil
½ t fresh lemon juice
½ c Parmigiano-Reggiano
½ – 1 t kosher salt
Spray a small skillet with vegetable oil and heat on medium high. Add the walnuts. Toast for 3-4 minutes until browned. Remove from heat. Pour into a bowl and cool.
Place the basil, garlic, and cooled walnuts into a food processor. Pulse blend to coarsely chop. Add the olive oil and lemon juice. Pulse to blend and reach a smoother texture.
Add the cheese and pulse once or twice to blend.
Place in a small bowl and add the salt to taste. If not using immediately, place in a lidded bowl and cover with a glaze of olive oil. Cover and place in refrigerator for up to a week.
To use as a pasta sauce, add 1-2 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to create a smoother texture and toss with drained pasta.