by Carole Latimer
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Basil pesto is the original, classic dish which originated in Genoa, Italy. You can vary the ingredients in pesto, such as substituting macadamia nuts or walnuts for pine nuts or omitting butter or Romano cheese. You'll still get a good-tasting pesto—but be sure to use only fresh garlic, fresh basil, and real olive oil.
Makes: 1 1/2 cups
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/3-1/2 cup olive oil
1 TB pine nuts
2-4 cloves garlic (fresh garlic, please)
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
2 TB butter softened to room temperature
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 TB freshly grated Romano cheese
1. Remove basil leaves from the stems and set aside (discard the stems).
2. Put half the olive oil, nuts, garlic, salt, pepper and butter in a food processor or blender and mix at high speed until evenly blended. Add basil leaves and remainder of oil and mix. Stop often and with a rubber spatula scrape down the sides of food processor till everything is evenly blended. You want basil leaves to be well blended into the other ingredients, but don't over-blend to a green liquid. Some tiny pieces of the leaves should be recognizable.
3. Add Parmesan and Romano cheeses and mix until just blended. The finished product should be pasty—about the consistency of thick, cooked oatmeal.
4. Package in a nalgene jar, and twist the lid firmly closed. Keep chilled until ready to pack in your backpack, keep it in a cool place in your pack, and do not expose to sunlight.
Cook pasta of your choice (see Camp Tip below) and mix pesto into steaming hot pasta, or serve plain pasta and pass the pesto jar. Two tablespoons is a conservative estimate for one serving—most people want twice as much. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.
Pesto is also delicious on potatoes, in soup, and some people even put it on eggs.
Variation: If you can't get fresh basil, try Parsley Pesto. Substitute parsley for basil and use flat-leaf Italian parsley if possible.
Camp Tip: Do you know that regular dry pasta will not cook at high altitude? At about 10,000 feet plus the water merrily boils, and your pasta slowly but surely turns into a pot of wallpaper paste! This happens because water boils at a lower temperature at high altitude and regular dry pasta needs very hot water to cook properly. Does that mean you can never have a pasta dinner at high altitude? No! Instead, you can use Asian noodles which have been cooked and then dried again. Often this type of Asian noodle will say "alimentary paste" on the label. I like chuka soba noodles; Top Ramen noodles work too, but they don't taste as good as chuka soba.
The soul blossoms when you leave behind the expectations of everyday life, and meet the challenge of the outdoors with the support and enthusiasm of others.