To begin, you have to grab a bunch of basil from the garden (or buy a large bunch from a supermarket or farmer's market). I usually cut the top leaf stalks off of about 4 plants in my garden when I want to make some pesto. I would guess when I remove the stems, it gives me about 2 cups of fresh basil leaves.
I use a salad spinner to wash and then to spin the leaves dry. After spinning several times, they are dry enough to place into a blender or food processor. (Your choice). I add about 1 cup of an extra virgin olive oil and then, instead of pignoli nuts, I add 1 - 1/2 cups of walnuts. They are cheaper and I like the flavor better. Add a pinch of salt, about 10 grinds of fresh black pepper and then start to pulse the mixture. If you like, you can squeeze some fresh lemon or lime into the mix to brighten the flavors.
Pay attention to the texture of your pesto. You want it to be like a thick paste and depending on your personal preference, you might like it a bit chunkier or very smooth. I prefer the slight crunch of the walnuts, so I don't go all that smooth with my mixing. If it looks like the pesto is too thick to can always drizzle in a bit more extra virgin olive oil to thin it out. When you are nearly at your final texture, add about 1 cup of your favorite grated cheese... Pecorino Romano, Locatelli or my favorite, Parmigiano-Reggiano. You might even try a dry sharp Provolone. Do a few final pulses to get the texture you want--I like it a bit grittier when used with pasta directly, but more smooth if I'm going to use it as an ingredient in a creamy pesto sauce, for ravioli or gnocchi, for instance.
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