Dinner with Basil: Homemade Pesto + Caprese Salad

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Earlier this week, Ray and I had a special guest for dinner, basil! This beautiful broad-leafed herb is definitely in season with the bundles  so big, I could barely tell it apart from heads of lettuce in the produce section. When I get a bouquet of basil this large, there’s really only two things I want to make, homemade pesto and a caprese salad. And that’s what I did: Seared Scallops with Pesto Rigatoni with a Caprese Salad drizzled with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette. I think I’d like to have basil over dinner more often!

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For the Pesto: I never follow recipes, so in my Cuisinart I just blended pine nuts (they have pre-packaged 1/4 cup bags in the baking aisle at the store), whatever Parmesan I had in my fridge and garlic. I then added the basil leaves and the juice of one lemon.  Word on the street is to keep the Cuisinart running while you add the olive oil through the top feeder until the mixture is smooth. At the last minute I added zest of 1/2 lemon and I’m pretty sure that took the pesto to a whole other level of amazing both in flavor and color.  For perfect single-servings down the road,  scoop any extra pesto into an ice cube tray and cover with plastic wrap making sure it’s flush with the pesto and place in freezer.  For the rule followers,  Ina Garten has a great recipe for pesto.

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