Makes 1-1/2 cups of pesto; serves 6 with pasta.
For the pesto:
3 heads garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
4 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 + 2 tsp cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3/4 cup roasted red peppers (from a jar)
1/8 tsp hot red pepper flakes
For the pasta:
1 lb any shape dried pasta
6 or more fresh basil leaves, for garnish (optional)
Extra grated parmesan cheese, for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Slice off the top 1/4 of each head of garlic to expose the tips of the cloves. Set the garlic heads on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle with 2 tsp of olive oil, salt and pepper, and seal the foil packet. Place it on a baking sheet, and bake for 1-1/2 hours. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool. (You can do this days in advance, and store in the refrigerator.)
When the garlic is cool, squeeze the cloves out directly into the food processor. Add the pine nuts, and pulse several times to chop the nuts. In batches, add the basil leaves, pulsing enough to make room for more until all are incorporated.
Toss in the salt, and chop until the basil is very fine. Then, with the machine running, add the remaining 1/2 cup of oil slowly, through the feed tube. When all of the oil is in, add the cheese, red peppers and hot pepper flakes, and pulse a few times to chop the red peppers.
At this point you can freeze the pesto, or refrigerate it for up to 2 weeks in a container with an airtight lid.
Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large stock pot. Add the pasta, and cook according to package directions depending on the size and shape you've selected.
Toss the pasta with as much of the pesto as you need; reserve the remaining pesto for another time. To serve, julienne or shred the basil, and top each serving with plenty of basil and grated parmesan cheese.