Roasted Garlic & Basil Pesto

Last week, our neighbor from downstairs offloaded a grocery-bag full of fresh basil into our welcoming arms. Apparently she has an indoor basil plant that went berserk during our unusually hot summer and she couldn't keep up with its prolific offerings. Like good neighbors, we were more than happy to help out. Basil is one of my favorite herbs (maybe even my absolute favorite?) and pesto is something I simply can't live without. I have many memories of making pesto with my mom every summer from the numerous basil plants we planted each year. We'd make a special trip to the grocery store to buy olive oil, parmesan, garlic, and walnuts or pine nuts. Then we'd spend the rest of the day picking basil leaves off their stems until our thumbnails turned green and packing them into the food processor with the rest of the ingredients. The kitchen smelled so good! Our cuisinart would get a good workout those days. Sometimes we'd have enough basil to make five or six batches with more left over for fresh salads and open-faced sandwiches with tomato and mozzarella. Somewhere along the way of making pesto I stopped using a recipe, relying more on sight, taste, and texture to make a perfect batch. One year I added sun-dried tomatoes and another year I forwent the parmesan for nutritional yeast (not recommended). Each year we'd keep some pesto for the fridge for making pasta salads and caprese sandwiches, but pack most of it into tupperware and store the containers in the freezer for comforting wintertime meals.  

 // Roasted Garlic and Basil Pesto // makes a pint
Noah actually came up with this recipe - basil pesto with roasted garlic and almonds. It turned out incredibly well and may be a new favorite. We haven't tried it on anything yet (except by the spoonful), but I'm thinking maybe a pesto salmon or smashed potatoes with a garlic-y pesto sauce. The great thing about pesto is that it's not only super versatile, but goes well with pretty much anything.

1 head of garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper

4 cups of packed basil
2/3 cup almonds
1 cup shredded parmesan
1/4 of a lemon, juiced (~2 teaspoons of juice)
1 teaspoon salt
Scant cup of olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Cut top off garlic so cloves are exposed. Drizzle cloves with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap garlic in tin foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. When cool, squeeze out the roasted garlic cloves and discard the husk.

2. In a food processor, combine basil, almonds, parmesan, lemon juice, salt, and about 3/4 of the roasted garlic (reserve the rest for another use). Process the pesto for 45 seconds, then slowly add the olive oil in a thin stream while the food processor is running. Process for another minute or two or until the pesto is smooth. Adjust salt to your liking.