Pesto

2 c. basil leaves
2/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 c. pine nuts
3 large garlic cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. olive oil
black pepper (optional)

In a food processor finely chop basil, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, garlic and salt. Cover and process to blend until nearly smooth, stopping and scraping sides as necessary. Add oil and blend until desired consistency. Add black pepper to taste

Use as a spread or mixed with pasta. If desired, freeze pesto for up to 3 months. Makes 3/4 c.

ALTERNATIVES:
Many culinary herbs provide delicious prospects for pesto. Substituate parsley, for instance, for half the basil in the recipe above. Trade one bunch of cilantro for a comparable amount of the basil. Use walnuts instead of pine nuts.