Pesto, pesto, how much I like you 🙂 . It has been part of my life since childhood, my parents being pesto lovers and my dad being an amazing producer of basil first and pesto consequently. Pasta al pesto has been in my diet forever: spaghetti, bavette, trenette (or linguine), fusilli, trofie, gnocchi are some of the best types of pasta to use to appreciate a good pesto sauce. But it gives its best also in a green vegetarian lasagna, on pizza, or spread on crostini. It is the essence of summer: you can smell the heat and the joy, you can taste the sun and the freshness.
It seems so easy to do, but it can be tricky if you don’t follow some basic steps. We all love that deep green color, smooth texture, and unforgettable flavor. The two worst enemies in the success of your pesto are oxygen and high temperatures, they can turn your lovely pesto into a dark green unappealing and unappetizing mixture.
Let’s start with the ingredients. The basil has to be organic, better if it is from your backyard, like ours 🙂 . You need to wash the leaves in cold water, very gently and they have to dry completely before use. When they’re dry, you can put them in the fridge a little bit, it helps. As well as the extra virgin olive oil, cold is better. As for the pine nuts, do not exceed, they can take away the color of your pesto and give it an unpleasant bitter taste. I would suggest also to take the core or germ out of the garlic, I do that as a rule when I cook, especially for aged garlic cloves, it removes the bitterness and it is more digestible. I always add Parmigiano Reggiano, but it is optional, some do some don’t. The original recipe for Pesto alla genovese calls for Parmigiano Reggiano and pecorino. If you are going to freeze your pesto I would suggest not to add Parmigiano. You can add it at the time of consuming it. Coarse sea salt is indispensable, if you mash it in the mortar and pestle with the garlic it starts that beautiful cream base and it also prevents the oxidation of the leaves.
The best and appropriate procedure would be in a marble mortar and wood pestle, starting with the garlic and a grain of salt, then adding the basil leaves and more grains of salt, pine nuts, then lastly alternating the Parmigiano and the extra virgin olive oil, until it reaches the desired creamy consistency.
But you can also use a blender or a small food processor, it saves a bit of our precious time. Put the basil leaves in, the minced garlic, salt, pine nuts and start mixing. At this point add the Parmigiano and the extra virgin olive oil and continue mixing intermittently as not to overheat the leaves.
When it is almost all blended, I transfer the mixture in a mortar and pestle just to finish it off. I like it smooth but not too inconsistent.
It tastes divine: the distinct aromatic flavor of the basil that has the power to elevate your mood, the sweet nuttiness of the pine nuts that add the crunch, the slightly pungent garlic for the creaminess, Parmigiano for that bit of edge and it all comes together thanks to the Gods liquid, extra virgin olive oil.
The purpose for our pesto this time was for a pizza topping for an event we catered. We made a pizza Margherita (which is the classic tomato sauce and mozzarella) and added splashes of pesto here and there. It was so tasty, everybody devoured it in seconds.
Enjoy your pesto anyway you like!
- 50 g basil leaves
- 15 grams pine nuts
- 1 medium clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 3 tablespoons grated parmigiano reggiano
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Wash gently basil leaves and let them dry on a towel.
- Place in a small food processor. Add garlic, salt, pine nuts.
- Pulse mixer then alternate parmigiano and extra virgin olive oil.
- Intermittently blend mixture but be careful not to overheat it.
- To prevent the overheating I finish blending the pesto in a mortar and pestle.
- Place in a 5 oz (15 cl) Bormioli jar and place in fridge with a thin layer of olive oil on top.
Pesto will stay fresh in the glass jar in the fridge for 3-4 days, with a thin layer of olive oil on top. Or you can freeze it for up to 3 months.
Ricetta in Italiano:
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