basil pesto & squash blossoms

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I was inspired to make basil pesto and stuffed squash blossoms this past weekend using ingredients from the Collingswood Farmers’ Market. Basil bouquets and squash blossoms are available from Flaim Farms.

Below is the recipe for basil pesto. Instructions for squash blossoms can be found here.

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basil pesto

yield: serves 6-8

3/4 cup pine nuts, roasted per below
1-2 garlic cloves (to taste)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more
5-6 cups fresh basil
1 pound pasta (orecchiette or your choice)*
1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter (to taste)
2-3 cups (or more) hot pasta cooking water
salt for finishing only
1/3 cup parmigiano-reggiano, finely grated, for finishing only (to taste)

*This recipe yields enough pesto for two pounds of pasta

Roast pine nuts: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the nuts evenly on a sheet pan and bake for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. Remove from oven and transfer to a plate to stop cooking. Allow to cool.

In a food processor, pulse cooled nuts, garlic cloves, and oil first. Then add basil and pulse to a fine chop. (Do not season with salt now.)

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water to al dente (firm to the bite). Feel free to taste your pasta during cooking to test for doneness. Strain the pasta and save three cups or more of the hot pasta cooking water.

Place the cooked and drained pasta into a large sauteuse (deep saute pan) with 1/2 cup of hot pasta cooking water and butter over medium-high heat. Stir together with quick movements to coat the pasta in butter so the pesto will stick (30 seconds or until the water has somewhat evaporated).

Remove from heat. Add half of the pesto mixture and pour another cup of hot pasta cooking water over the pesto. Stir fast for 1-2 minutes to create a cohesive sauce that coats the pasta. If the pesto is too thick, add more hot pasta cooking water to thin. Hit the pasta with a generous grating of cheese. Taste and season with salt if needed. Finish with light drizzle of olive oil just before serving, if desired.

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