A basic pesto sauce using fresh basil and pine nuts. Traditionally pesto is made by grinding fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil & nuts by hand with a mortar and pestle. While fun to do, it is time consuming, but with modern conveniences we can now cheat a little bit. This recipe uses a food processor but you can also finely chop everything with a good knife or a mezzaluna. See *Note below for a list of optional ingredients and feel free to use and experiment with any combination of herbs and nuts you may have available.
- Fit your food processor with the steel blade attachment. To bowl add basil, garlic, oil, pine nuts, salt and pepper. Pulse several times, scraping bowl if needed, and continue until the mixture is a smooth paste. Add a tiny bit of oil if mixture gets too thick.
- When the consistency is right, transfer to a small bowl and fold in the shredded parmesan cheese.
- To Serve: Stir a few tablespoons of pesto with a splash of cooking water from your favorite pasta and toss with hot pasta until coated. Use as a condiment on grilled panini sandwiches, on toast points for an appetizer, as a pizza sauce, or garnish your fresh soup with a few teaspoons.
- To Store: Cover with a thin layer of olive oil or spray with non-stick cooking oil and keep in the fridge for several weeks. For long-term storage fill ice cube trays with pesto, freeze and then pop out into a resealable plastic bag. Thaw just the right amount of fresh pesto for your meal any time you want it!
- *NOTE: Other aromatic herbs, nuts, oils or hard cheeses can be used in place of or in combination with the basil, pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil and parmesan. Keep in mind the herb is the star of the show and should have the most prominent flavor when mixing and matching ingredients. Also, consider the rest of your meal and what fresh flavors might compliment it best. Have fun experimenting with some of the following!
- Herbs: fresh cilantro, spinach, oregano, sun-dried tomatoes; Italian flat leaf parsley can be used by itself but is also great to use with any of the other herbs when you may be running short on them.
- Nuts: Walnuts, almonds, pecans.
- Flavored Oils: porcini mushroom, walnut, lemon, rosemary, raspberry.
- Cheeses: parmigiano-reggiano, asiago, romano.
I just made the original version and it was perfect! I used it to make Baked Pesto Chicken and tossed the remainder with some pasta for an effortless and delicious meal that's on the table in no time. I'm looking forward to making some other variations in the future. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe with us.