Pesto and Basil Aioli

We bought a pretty good sized basil plant from Eastern Market at the beginning of the summer and have been living off of it ever since.  

One of the easiest things to make with basil is pesto sauce.  Pesto pasta is our go-to meal when we're low on groceries or when it's too hot to turn on the stove or oven.  I was just talking to a couple of friends this weekend about our pesto recipe, which I have to say is better than the few restaurant pestos that I have tried.  (Well, actually it's not our recipe, it's this one here).  The reason we like this recipe is because instead of pine nuts, which are traditionally used in pesto, this recipe uses walnuts, which are less expensive and easier to find.  My friends were really intrigued by the use of walnuts and I thought others might be as well, so I had to share.  

Olive oil and chopped walnuts...

Basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper...

Voila!  Pesto.
Then mix it with your favorite type of pasta.  (Or in our case, whatever we have on hand).  

That's very sloppy plating, but you get the point.

Another very easy and very delicious favorite of ours to make with basil is basil aioli.  We were first introduced to basil aioli on our first visit to our favorite place on earth, Angelina Italian Bistro.  Our first dish at Angelina was arancini with basil aioli sauce.  (Angelina's arancini is fried risotto, mushroom, Parmesan and mozzarella. Fried rice balls so to speak).  And they are drizzled with the best basil aioli you'll ever taste.  We were automatically hooked and eager to try to make it ourselves. 

Here's the recipe we use.  It's quite delicious.  Now besides fried rice balls, you can use basil aioli as a dipping sauce for almost anything.  The absolute best thing to pair with basil aioli is french fries.   There's really nothing like it.  We're ashamed to admit it, but sometimes when we make basil aioli we go to Mickey D's for a large fry (or two) and sit at our kitchen table dipping and smiling and enjoying the wonderfulness of it all.  Besides french fries, we have also smeared basil aioli on chicken sandwiches (that we made, not from McDonald's), and spooned a bunch on a plate and topped it with sliced roasted potatoes.  We're really down for trying basil aioli on anything.  It's that good.

Hope you enjoy these recipes.  Happy basil-ing!

I'd be interested in hearing if others are basil aioli fools; and if so, what's your favorite pairing?

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